Keeping kids moving

Explore new ideas to engage kids in physical activity.

While working with childcare providers in our Healthier Child Care Environments program, a variety of child care providers have chosen to enhance their daily physical activity components. As part of the program, the childcare providers assess their entire environment as it relates to health, including areas such as nutrition, physical activity, screen time, breastfeeding support practices and parent education. The providers I have collaborated with recognized an opportunity after their pre-assessment to make small additions in the amount and variety of physical activity opportunities for the children in their care, thus working to enhance their practices related to physical activity.

Physical activity habits learned in early childhood can last a lifetime. Michigan State University Extension realizes that childcare providers have a unique opportunity to help influence the children’s behaviors and habits related to physical activity. Being a good role model for the children, being physically active with them and planning for lots of different types of physical activity each day are positive ways to get your childcare moving. No matter what kind of space limitations you may have, there are ways to add more physical activity. Plan to keep children moving while learning with daily, quick and creative physical activities. Children should have at least two to three active play times every day. Instead of thinking of exercise as a separate scheduled activity, just try to weave quick “moving” moments throughout the day.

A few easy strategies to implement that don’t take a lot of time or space include:

  • Take a stretch break after reading a story
  • Turn on music, stand up and dance after circle or carpet time
  • Take a walk around the house, basement or yard before nap time
  • Do yoga poses after naptime to transition everyone from nap to snack time.
  • Using dice, create an activity to roll two dice and assign physical activity movements to each number. For example, if you roll a 5 and a 6 (and you have said that 6s are jumping jacks), then the kids would do 5 jumping jacks. Create your own system and mix it up often.

Free, unstructured physical activity opportunities such as letting kids run around outside or choose to use jump ropes or hopscotch are also important for children. Balance your activities between structured and unstructured.

Shape America has a wealth of fun, interactive and engaging ideas to incorporate with children at childcare or also to create more physical activity experiences at home with your children or grandchildren. My childcare providers’ partners have enjoyed trying new activities to get their children moving and you will too.

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