School is a place where 4-7 year old children spend a great amount of time working with engaging and enjoyable phonics activities. However, the statistic that 25% of Year 1 children are expected to fail the Phonics Screening Check in June 2015 (Gov UK, 2014) demonstrates the process of engaging all children with phonics remains an issue. This statistic subsequently shows that creating an engaging phonics environment for all children within the classroom and at home remains a constant challenge for parents and teachers. Scientists at Southampton Solent University suggest this challenge is related to the lack of differentiation in learning resources on the market. EduMove (Education through movement) have developed an innovative solution – a board game that allows children to actively prepare for the Phonics Screening Check this June. The EduMove Phonics Board Games engages children in stress free phonics learning and revision, whilst taking part in enjoyable physical activity at home with their family and friends, as well as at school. Results from the testing of this innovation have been excellent.
1. Engaging children with phonics at home
There is no doubt that Hampshire schools have made huge progress since 2012 when just 58% of Year 1 students passed the Phonics Screening Check. Although 2014 results show a 75% pass rate, there still remains 25% of pupils who are not up to standard (Gov UK, 2015). Despite teachers implementing a more creative and active phonics curriculum, there is a need for more engaging phonics resources available for parents to support their child’s development at home.
2. Increased stress levels of children as young as four and five years old
The recent indication is that it will not be getting any easier for children anytime soon with the governments’ imminent plans to introduce Baseline Assessments for children from the age of four years old. Experts believe these assessments will put schools under pressure to carry out such exams because of league tables, therefore there is a need for advances in stress free, enjoyable and engaging revision resources.
3.Hampshire’s child obesity levels
Despite the school environment being identified as a prominent area where opportunities to increase children’s engagement in physical activity to improve health statistics can be made, little practical application of increased physical activity has been implemented within schools due to external pressures from the government to focus on core curriculum subjects. This is supported by the worrying statistic that as many as one in five children in Hampshire is now overweight or obese. There is a need for innovative resources that provide children with an opportunity to partake in increased physical activity at home or within school.
Scientists at Southampton Solent University have been working with the dual methodology of education through movement for the last 3 years. EduMove works with rationales across the school, health, social justice, active learning and sport policies and teachers claim active learning through EduMove effectively integrates phonics learning and revision with physical activity to support Phonics Screening Tests. One student said, “If Edumove was coming back I would ask if I could do it again. I loved doing phonics and PE together” (Year 2 Pupil, St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School). There is a growing body of literature that supports physical activity’s ability to facilitate mechanisms such as concentration and confidence to enhance school attainment, cognitive functions and behaviour through the EduMove Phonics Board Game. This is supported by a teacher’s claims that “the children love the EduMove Board Game. They are always really engaged with their learning and and are always disappointed when we have to finish!” (Year 1 Teacher, St James’s Catholic School). EduMove phonics programmes and resources have been utilised within 12 Southampton schools this year and feedback from teachers and children has been exceptional.
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