Watton family find it’s good to walk - and talk

A Watton family's decision to walk the three-mile journey to school every day is attracting praise from teachers and giving the parents some quality time with their youngsters.

For many families, the morning routine looks a little like this: a fight to get in the bathroom, a mad dash out the door and a jump into the car ready for the journey to school.

But when Pam and Andy Jones decided to switch their usual routine for a three-mile walk and an hour of quality time with their youngest sons, they were amazed at the effect it had on them all.

Now, as well as hearing endless praise for the boys from their teachers, the parents are using the television and X-Box free time to get to know their youngsters.

Eight-year-old Tai and six-year-old Lewis can find themselves walking up to six miles each day since they began their new routine last term.

Everyday they make the journey from their home in Watton to St Peter and Paul School in Carbrooke, through Watton Green, by foot.

Mrs Jones, who does each trip with them, said it began as a way to make the endlessly-energetic Tai a little calmer before school but soon proved helpful for everyone.

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'It's better for us all. We are all walking and getting exercise and, with the cost of petrol at the moment, it's also saving us money,' she said.

'We walk there each day and sometimes walk back after school depending on the weather and if they have an after school club.

'When it comes to bed time, they go straight to sleep.'

But it was not just the boys' parents who were noticing a change.

Sue Youngs, headteacher at St Peter and Paul School, said Lewis' year one teacher Hilary Aspinwall and Tai's year three teacher Emma Hilton have both reported improvements.

'They were lovely lads before but we are certainly noticing a difference,' she said. 'They feel better because of the exercise - they are ready to learn and ready to concentrate.

'The walk makes them really alert. They are lively and ready to go.'

The schoolboys' mum said she and husband Andy were also getting a lot out of the walk.

As well as plenty of exercise as she covers up to 12 miles in a day, Mrs Jones is learning more and more about her sons.

The 42-year-old, who also has four children aged 13 to 20, said: 'We get to talk more to each other because they've got an hour to fill both ways.

'They will tell me about what's gone on at school. Before I would say 'how's school' and they'd just say 'alright'. Now they will tell me all about it.'

Lewis has speech therapy for his pronunciation of Cs and Gs and his mum believes the time he spends talking and listening to his family on the walk is also helping that.

Lewis said: 'I really like walking with my mum and dad. I like going in the muddy puddles and talking about stuff like soldiers.'

Last night Laurie Hull, director of county sports partnership Active Norfolk, said he was always pleased to hear of families making the most of the walk to school, both because of the effect it has on children and their parents.

He said studies and anecdotal evidence had shown something as cheap and simple as a stroll to school had a big impact on a child's brain power.

He said: 'It's all about being alert and digesting your food properly do you don't feel sluggish. It also means they're getting sunshine, so we don't get children with rickets.

'The benefit of engaging with your parents is also fantastic - they're often the ones who need the exercise as well.'

The schoolboys' headteacher said she could often notice the difference between children who walked even just part of the way to school. She added: 'Of course, children's safety comes first. They can only walk to school if it is safe for them to do so.'

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