TARKA was started because Rufus wanted to pass on his love of exercise and the pure joy that comes from being fit and healthy. Looking back at his childhood and the world that he grew up in, it is hard to see how children today can avoid technology, screens and bad food, which means that we have to work harder to educate them to be active, healthy and social.
The first 6 years of a child’s life mark the formative phase of their cerebral development. TARKA’s classes have been designed with pediatric experts and healthcare professionals to optimise your child’s development in this period. Our experienced team will provide a fun and flexible programme designed to nurture your child’s coordination, communication skills and confidence.
We encourage physical activity in a fun context filled with lots of positive reinforcement, so it never feels like “work.” Setting this foundation for enjoyable and high energy movement early on, means that it will be natural for our students to keep up an active lifestyle in the long term.
The pure fun and joy of being a part of a team and feeling accomplished as one is at the heart of everything we do.
Developed by a team of Former Army and Early Childhood professionals, TARKA classes test the body and challenge the mind.
Our instructors are ever-positive role models who are well tuned into the needs of the younger children. From the moment the children walk in they know that the Instructors are READY TO GO! A closer look at our instructors in action will show how intently they are embodying fitness, focus, self-discipline, and respect for peers. All members of the team have considerable experience in both leadership and development, and look to apply these skills throughout the class:.
- Ice-breaker – At the start of every class there will be brightly coloured balls for the children to kick, throw or collect. This is to encourage them to join in, interact with the other children and Instructors and so that they feel comfortable in the space.
- Register – While we are checking that all the children are there we use it as an opportunity to develop their confidence by getting them to stand up, introduce themselves and share something with the group.
- Warm-up – This is a 5-10 minute period to switch on their brains and bodies. There will be lots of running and jumping but they will also have to listen and react to instructions and start working in groups.
- Developmental Exercise – This is a 45 minute adventure where the instructor paints an imaginary world and a mission that needs to be completed. This could be transporting rocket fuel by balancing, jumping, crawling and throwing over obstacles or building pyramids in ancient Egypt. The exercise will have the goal of developing their social and emotional skills as well as their physical ability.
- Cool-down – 5-10 minutes of stretching, mindfulness, breathing and relaxing before they are collected feeling tired, fulfilled, happy and calm. They should then eat well and (fingers crossed) sleep well!
During our early years, our brain is extremely active. Between 700 and 1000 new neural connections are made every second, and these connections determine the brain’s architecture and thus our lifelong capacity to learn, adapt and enjoy great mental and physical health. Reinforced and repeated use of these positive neural pathways is essential for good health and happiness; we aim to make the most of this vital period in a child’s development. As one study by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University remarks, “It is easier and less costly to form strong brain circuits during the early years than it is to intervene or ‘fix’ them later.”
Exercise helps children to learn. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, and a 200§7 study showed that 3 months of exercise increases blood flow to the brain’s memory and learning centres by 30%. In addition, fit children have been shown to have bigger hippocampi and basal ganglia – these areas manage complex thinking, attention to detail and the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts. In a study of 9-10 year olds, fitter children had brains 12% larger than their peers: in rational memory tests, fitter children scored 30% higher on academic tests, especially in maths and science.
While our classes use generic exercises, providing the basis for your child to enjoy playing sport can be extremely beneficial. Children who do so at school tend to go on to have higher status careers than those who don’t. One study even showed that 81% of female business executives played team sports as girls. Experts are still debating the reasons why, but playing sport at school certainly seems to contribute to later success.
The National Child Measurement Programme, which measures the height and weight of a million children in England every year, found in 2014/15 that 9.1% children aged 4-5 were obese, and another 12.8% were overweight. This causes broad damage to their health, putting them at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma and even Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that exercise, like writing, is a skill that can be learned. Once mastered, evidence suggests that children are far less likely to encounter obesity in later life. It’s Tarka’s goal to teach children this skill.
A recent study conducted in the Netherlands contrasted sedentary maths and spelling lessons with new physically active ones, where students aged between 5 and 7 were asked to jump on the spot in answer to their times tables. After two years, the children in active classes performed significantly higher on tests. Physical activity makes the brain fertile for learning, something our educational games seek to take advantage of.