More than ever before, our teenagers are under pressure to perform at school. They are squeezed into one homogenous group, making it difficult to see the individual. The sum of their worth is attributed to their position on a league table. As a result of this, it has become even more important that young people have an outlet for not only creativity but to develop skills of movement and physical dexterity beyond the tapping of a keyboard. So, how do we engage teenagers in physical activity using circus skills?
Statistics show a massive decline in the amount of sport or physical activity young people take part in once they reach their teens. This is a damning trend which impinges not only on their academic ability but also their physical and mental wellbeing.
Sport England recently carried out extensive research into the behaviours and habits around teenagers and their interaction with physical activity. You can read the full article, here.
So what is the answer to getting our young people motivated and moving?
Teenagers (and all of us) are motivated if they enjoy something, you only have to look at the queue for tickets to a concert or the opening of a shop with a celebrity signing, to see a line of motivated teenagers!
‘Very few teenagers completely lack motivation. What many teenagers lack is the motivation to do stuff that doesn’t matter, doesn’t seem important, or is about satisfying an agenda that doesn’t relate to them.’
They also need to have the opportunity to experience a variety of activities, to find their niche, an activity they feel comfortable with. Too often teenagers are either branded ‘sporty’ or not ‘sporty’ but there are a whole host of other physical activities which teenagers can enjoy outside of conventional ‘sport’.
Physical activity is beneficial even if it’s not a cardio work out. Any type of movement which encourages young people to stay in tune with their bodies and tone or move is a valuable thing. A research study by Sports England outlines the psychosocial benefits of physical activity of any type.
‘‘Psychosocial. Possible factors include improvements in perceptions of competence and self-efficacy; confidence about the body and its capabilities may generalise to global self-esteem; improved body image (especially for females); social affiliation and significance.’
Source: Sport England
Why choose a circus skills workshop?
Teenagers need to keep moving, but it doesn’t have to just be all cardio to be of benefit. At this difficult age, just feeling confident in their body’s abilities and therefore brave enough to try new things, especially in front of their peers, can be a great achievement – to learn to control and work with their growing bodies.
● Circus skills are a break from the ‘norm’ and therefore interesting and engaging.
● Concentration, logic and problem solving skills can leapfrog physical ability in the speed of picking up circus tricks, therefore circus skills level the playing field and everyone can have a go, regardless of weight, height, and ‘sportiness’.
● The fun of having a go and the addictive nature of starting to make quick progress encourages teenagers to take part. No one expects to look good or seem cool when trying to juggle, spin a plate or hula hoop!
● It’s often the most awkward un-sporty kids who learn to juggle the quickest, not the ones who are adept at all sport.
School can be isolating for certain groups of young people, and we have often found that young people who sometimes struggle to assimilate with their peers have enjoyed the circus skills workshops. These young people then went on to look for opportunities outside of school to pursue this interest.
Not every teenager wants to play football, or be on the XFactor. Teenagers are a wonderfully diverse group, and it can take a while for them to find their ‘tribe’!
Physical benefits of a circus skills workshop…..
● Encourages coordination, in both upper and lower body.
● Increases awareness of posture and can develop core strength.
● Tightrope walking takes intense use of core strength and develops skills of balance like no other activity!
● Improves confidence in physical ability through quick wins.
Our team have a wealth of experience working with teenagers both in traditional school environments and also in PRU units. We’re adept at working with challenging behaviour.
Using a firm but light hearted, no nonsense approach to teaching, works really well with the circus equipment, as the tricks are impressive to the teenagers.
Having an experienced approach at engaging them to have a go, breaks through the front that some teenagers present as a defence for being worried about getting things wrong in front of their peers.
Can a circus skills workshop be part of their education?
In short, yes! Exercise not only is good for the muscles and physiology, but it’s also essential for good brain function.
‘Exercises which stimulate the cerebellum works closely with the cerebrum which is the thinking part of the brain. When the cerebellum and the thinking centre are working properly things like learning to read, tying shoelaces or riding a bike are easier to learn. They make movements and learning seamless and easier.’
Source: ‘Teaching the Brain to learn’
Exercises used during our workshops are perfect for stimulating the cerebellum part of the brain, which not only improves coordination, concentration and core strength, they also, in turn, increase the brain function that is the ‘thinking’ part of the brain.
So it turns out, circus skills are great for aiding more academic learning as well as helping to tone, increase core strength and get young people up from the sitting position and moving around!
It was with great pleasure we recently had a parent tell us how they could tell if their son was upstairs in his room revising, or, learning to juggle. They could hear the thud of the balls landing on the floor when he was juggling instead of revising!
The fact is, teenagers are not robots, they need to unwind and take regular breaks. Breaks from screens and thinking, learning to juggle, or spinning a plate is something which they can carry on at home, without the need for expensive equipment. Juggling between revision can be good for the mind, body and soul!
‘Remember that attitude matters more than grades: this will help you and your teen to relax and, paradoxically, your teenager will perform better.’
If you are concerned that we may not quite manage the needs of your group of teenagers, rest assured we have probably dealt with a more challenging bunch! Our creative director Nikki took time out from performing to spend time running a team working in a residential unit for vulnerable young people, so our workshops come with a wealth of experience in working with teenagers. There isn’t much which surprises us, or we haven’t dealt with before.
To book a workshop with us, you can contact us here…