Keep it moving in childcare – Part 1

Physical activity is an important part of any childcare program. Keeping kids moving throughout the day promotes positive healthy habits.

Children can learn while they are moving their bodies. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Children can learn while they are moving their bodies. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Childhood obesity has become a huge concern in the United States. We are constantly reading about it on the internet, in the paper and seeing it on the news. Some reasons why child obesity is on the rise is because young children are less active due to less opportunities for active play, more TV viewing and spending lots of time in cars.

According to recent research, children are not as active as we assume during the day at childcare. Each childcare center has different characteristics, which play important roles in promoting healthy weight through physical activity. For example, implementing policies for TV viewing and outdoor play, providing a quality play environment, and having adult physical activity role models help stress the importance of physical activity every day.

Physical activity is any bodily movement, produced by muscles and burns energy. Many things children consider fun such as riding a bike, playing tag or swimming are considered physical activity. Moderate-physical activity refers to activity that requires effort and gets your heart beating fast. Things like walking, bike riding on level terrain, or yoga would fall into this category. Vigorous-physical activity are activities that may be challenging to an individual and really make you sweat. Activities like jogging, biking uphill and jumping rope are examples of vigorous activity. It is important to include both types of activity for children throughout the day.

Childcare professionals create early impressions of what is appropriate in eating and activity, so it is important to create an active play environment in the classroom. Instead of sitting, create lesson plans that use movement when instructing. Children can learn while they are moving their bodies. Be aware of appropriate kinds of movement abilities preschoolers are capable of, and be sure to have them use those skills throughout the day.

It is also important for children to have the opportunity to do physical activity at home. Sometimes healthy eating habits and appropriate physical activity are not provided consistently at home. Michigan State University Extension suggests that childcare providers encourage and remind families of healthy eating habits and incorporating daily physical activity by:

  • Sending home newsletters with information on the importance of physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Displaying posters that promote exercise and nutrition in the childcare setting.
  • Implementing center policies that include physical activity.
  • Holding special events to promote physical activity.

Childcare providers spend a large portion of the day with many children, so it is important that they use the opportunity to help keep children healthy. Providing many opportunities for children to engage in physical activity can help children stay healthy and grow up to understand the importance of physical activity in their daily routine.

For more resources on physical development and activity read:

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Childcare and Early Education

In part two of this article you can read about appropriate physical activity developments for each stage.

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