Be Active Schools health and wellbeing

How dancing can boost health and happiness in school

One local school has been using the power of dancing to improve the health and wellbeing of not just their pupils, but their staff and even parents as well.

Old Park Primary School in Malinslee have been dancing their way to happiness and health every day since they returned from lockdown.

During lockdown, pupils who were able to attend school were concerned about their peers who had to remain at home. They were worried that they did not have the opportunity to be active like them. 

Pupils at Old Park Primary School felt that when their friends returned, they would need to come together to improve everyone’s health and fitness. They would need to do something to raise heart rates, get the blood moving and release endorphins.

Since school returned to full capacity, the whole school has been meeting on the playground every day to participate in a dance session. This started off being led by the PE teachers but now is led by children from different year groups. Everyone takes part, including class teachers, TAs and the Head Teacher, Mrs Haywood, they all love it!

One Pupil said, “You even learn different moves, and it gives you more exercise.”

Miss Wright, a teacher at Old Park Primary, said: “I love the music and the enthusiasm of the children when the music starts! The dance steps are picked up really quickly by the children. Sometimes they help the adults who haven’t quite got it! It’s a great way to end the day as a school community!” 

How it works…

At 2:45pm every school day, a large portable speaker is wheeled out onto the playground where the whole school meets in their class groups to participate in the dance session led by a small group of children.

Once the music starts, the children stop the chatter, and they all join in with movements led by the children at the front. 

As the sessions continued, it was clear that the children who did not like the dance sessions in the beginning soon came to really look forward to the playground dance time.

Each year group takes the opportunity to lead the dance session, and pupils have now started to choreograph their own routines before school starts or at lunchtime.

Teacher’s comments:

“I find the dancing is great for improving the children’s co-ordination skills, and they are now able to pick up new moves more quickly. I can tell that some dances have now moved into their muscle memory as they are quick to pick up the moves when not starting a song from scratch.

“My class enjoy dance, and its now part of our regular routine as much as Maths, Literacy or any other subject. Our daily dance sessions have allowed children to be active and expressive in their own ways. There is no doubt that the children have grown in confidence since we began dancing daily. Being outdoors as a whole school and sharing an activity has had benefits to our sense of community as well as individual wellbeing.”

Children’s Comments:

“It’s fun, and you get exercise and fresh air.” 

“You even learn different moves, and it gives you more exercise.”

“I like dance because you learn something new.”

“I like dance because it gives me energy.”

“It is good exercise.”

How it has developed

The dancing has become incredibly popular throughout the whole school. Parents have asked about joining in, as the children talk about it at home. Parents were invited to take part in the dance session as part of the school’s Jubilee celebrations which created a fun and active activity. 

Through the Dance sessions Old Park is meeting aspects of the Relationship Health Sex Education curriculum (RHSE). It also supports them in achieving a Bronze, Sliver or Gold Healthy School Rating alongside other initiatives that support the Health and Wellbeing of their pupils, parents and teaching staff.

RHSE requirements met:

Physical health and mental wellbeing

Pupils should know by the end of primary:

  • The characteristics and mental and physical benefits of an active lifestyle.
  • The importance of building regular exercise into daily and weekly routines and how to achieve this; for example walking or cycling to school, a daily active mile or other forms of regular, vigorous exercise.

Healthy School Requirement met:

  • The amount of time children spend on physical education each week

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