Times most certainly have changed, a generation ago 70% of students walked to school, whilst nowadays its less than half. Studies have shown that pupils who engage in a form of exercise prior to school (such as walking) tend to get better results than those who don’t, but how do we encourage more of our little learners to walk?

Whilst it may seem like a small detail, walking to school can be very beneficial for the community as well as the students. Not only is walking great for mental health, but it also encourages social interaction, play, relaxation, discovery and enjoyment.

However, we understand that in this day and age it can be difficult to motivate children to walk anywhere, let alone to school, especially in the drearier months because lets face it, nobody likes being wet and cold!

Luckily for you, we’re sharing some top tips on how to encourage students to walk to school, including what steps to take to ensure their safety and keep them motivated, so all you have to do is sit back with a brew and get ready to prepare your pupils for their pilgrimage to the playground…

Give them something to walk for – Get little badges or diplomas and award them to students that walk to school at least once a week. As time goes by make the challenge a bit more difficult (e.g. walking to school for a whole week) and the prizes even better. It will keep students motivated and make them push themselves.

Set up a wall chart – Get an interactive chart for the students in your class. This way they will be able to track their own progress and see how well they are doing. They’ll also be excited to get into the classroom and update the chart.

Encourage social interaction – If your pupils live close to one another encourage them to meet up and walk to school together. It will make the journey exciting and safer and they will be able to spend more time with their friends, meaning the chatterboxes of the class can get it all out before lessons begin!

Educate them – Make your students aware of the fact that during peak times, one in five cars on the road are taking a child to school and that the school run alone is responsible for generating 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year! Inform them that by walking to school, they are helping our planet and furry friends!

Get fun and creative – Share ideas with the class of fun things they can do whilst walking! Small games like eye-spy or make it educational and ask them to look out for different street signs, animals, plants and cars they might see on the way. You can then discuss them all at the beginning of class. By playing games like this they’ll not only develop road safety, improved memory and better awareness, but their minds will also be awake and ready for a day of learning!

Keep parents involved – It’s important to keep parents informed about what you’re trying to do, send out safe routes to get to school, include meeting points where friends can meet and walk together and reiterate the importance of road safety and stranger danger. It’s an even better idea to encourage them to communicate with other parents and take turns walking a group to school!

Take your first steps (literally!) this Walk to School Week and motivate your students to do the same instead of relying on a ride.

There are some fantastic games for primary school pupils provided by THINK! here to get you started and you can also download and print this wonderful, free activity pack.