It seems hard to believe that only a generation ago, 70% of kids made their way to school via foot! And the odd vehicle drop-off was made by families who were not within walking distance of their school. Currently it seems that every little school-goer hops out of their parents’ car or off the bus to start their day, so what better way to encourage our younger generation to take things back to basics than with Walk to School Week, starting today!?
Why Walk to School?
Studies carried out by clean air experts have shown that the main source of air pollution around school areas is due to lines of vehicles idling outside school gates, waiting to drop off or pick up pupils during morning and afternoon periods. If possible, it is a far better option for kids to use their legs for such journeys, being three times less likely to be exposed to air pollution, often emitted from exhaust pipes.
Providing you are able and your child is young enough (and willing!) to let you walk them to and from school, it can offer a great opportunity to ask them about their days; what subjects they are enjoying the most and anything they may be having concerns about. It may seem like an obvious one, but just having that window of quiet to simply chat and catch up is a lovely way for both of you to spend your time at the beginning and end of school.
Equally, this time can be a great way for your children to get to know other kids on the same route to school and perhaps even parents to get acquainted with one another if their kids are young enough to need accompanying to and from the school gates.
Taking a leisurely (or briskly paced!) stroll to school does wonders for the body, mind and soul. First of all, getting in some exercise can help to improve overall physical health – and what’s more is it won’t even feel like exercising to them! Breathing in the fresh air not only makes for a happier and calmer mood, helping to re energise and sharpen the mind, but it is also thought to aid the healthy function of the digestive system.
Walking to school is also beneficial for kids because they get the chance to learn about the importance of road-rules. Whether it’s steering clear of busy roads, learning when it’s safe to cross, being mindful of pedestrian crossings and getting to understand those all-important traffic light signals.
According to Living Streets, the organisation behind the national Walk to School campaign, the journey to school is far less stressful due to a number of factors such as lessened fuel costs, better performing children at school, and most notably – happier and healthier kids. Teachers even report that those who walk to school are markedly more attentive throughout the day.
What is Walk to School Week?
It’s a fun and engaging week-long walking challenge for school children. Those who participate will be well on their way to reaching their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day! Last year, a record number of over 350,000 pupils across the UK took part, so why not get involved in this this growing movement to make this year their best yet!
How to Make Walking to School Fun
There are lots of ways that kiddos can make walking to school fun; there’s so much they miss out on when being driven to school so encourage them to do things like look out for wildlife and make note of what they see – from insects to birds to squirrels and foxes. Can they count how many they see during their morning and afternoon walks?
How about noticing any buildings with unusual details or boldly painted colours? Do any of them feature ornate detail and can they tell apart a new building from an old one?
Have they noticed any unusual textures around them when embarking on their journeys? Things like rough brick walls, the uneven grass beneath them, tall, leafy trees or even rusty railings.
There’s so much discover by just making their way to school on foot and, who knows, this could be something they’d want to repeat!