GET THE T-SHIRT!
STOP…just for a moment and let me encourage you to cast your mind back to the hazy days of childhood. Now, take a deep breath and think about your all-time favourite childhood memory. Regardless of what generation you grew up in, I would hazard a guess that your memories might include the great outdoors, perhaps spending time with family but most definitely having lots of fun!
Fast forward to the present day where The Educator last year revealed 75% of children in the UK spend less time outside than prison inmates! In the same year, Ofcom reported that 53% of 3 to 4 year spend around 8 hours a week online, rising sharply to 99% of 12-15 year olds who spend a staggering 21 hours online each week.
I can’t help but feel that as teachers we have a responsibility to support the children in our care in finding alternate ways to spend their time. After all, children spend over 7800 hours at school throughout their childhood.
YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health states that there is clear evidence that emotional wellbeing is a key indicator of academic achievement and subsequently improved outcomes later in life. Providing fun activities that give children suitable ‘down time’ will help to improve their focus and academic achievements, which screams “Win, win” to me!
This is how ‘Been There, Done It’ was born. Taking inspiration from The National Trust’s 50-things-to-do-before-you’re-11-activity-list, I worked with a group of staff from Pre Prep to Year 8 to devise a bespoke list of age appropriate activities that we knew would be fun, inspirational and provide key skills for the boys at our School, Lochinver House. I then grouped the activities according to age and presented them on three passports: one for Reception to Year 2 pupils, one for Years 3 to 5 and one for Years 6 to 8. The idea is that the boys complete all of the activities, collect evidence in a scrapbook and receive an award on completion. As ‘Been There Done It’ is a non-competitive programme, the award is a celebration of the experiences gained and the memories made; it is most definitely not linked to speed of completion!
The younger boys have the opportunity to gain the Bronze Award, working up to the older boys who can achieve the Gold. Completing the whole programme sees the presentation of a specially designed T Shirt so they can really say that they have ‘Been There, Done It and got the T Shirt’!
Following weeks of secrecy and build-up, we launched the project on September 18th with a whole school assembly and later a meeting for the parents. Feeling slightly anxious, I breathed a sigh of relief as our theatre became full of supportive parents who whole heartedly embraced the scheme.
The boys were handed their passports and scrapbooks this week and as they get underway with their passports of activities, I am excited to hear their stories and learn about their new adventures.
Sometimes the key to academic success cannot be found in the obvious places. Let’s be bold and put the FUN back into childhood!
Elizabeth Price is a Year 2 class teacher at Lochinver House School and is author and project leader of ‘Been There, Done It!’