Early childhood is a key time to promote children to develop lifelong healthy habits including physical activity. As early childhood educators, we can be positive role models for young children by participating in physical activity with the children as well as by participating in physical activity with ourselves. Regular physical activity in childhood has many benefits: improving strength and endurance, building healthy bones and muscles, developing motor skills and coordination, reducing depression and stress and promoting well-being. Most children naturally love physical activity because it’s fun. Since they can do it themselves, it challenges them to cooperate with friends, stay in shape and feel better about themselves.
National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) Guidelines for Physical Activity in Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Infants should interact with parents and/or caregivers in daily physical activities that are dedicated to promoting the exploration of their environment.
- Infants should be placed in safe settings that facilitate physical activity and do not restrict movement for prolonged periods of time.
- Infants’ physical activity should promote the development of movement skills.
- Infants should have an environment that meets or exceeds recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities.
- Individuals responsible for the well-being of infants should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the child’s movement skills.
Toddlers and Preschoolers:
- Toddlers should accumulate at least 30 minutes daily of structured physical activity; preschoolers at least 60 minutes.
- Toddlers and preschoolers should engage in at least 60 minutes and up to several hours per day of daily, unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping.
- Toddlers should develop movement skills that are building blocks for more complex movement tasks; preschoolers should develop competence in movement skills that are building blocks for more complex movement tasks.
- Toddlers and preschoolers should have indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities.
- Individuals responsible for the well-being of toddlers and preschoolers should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the child’s movement skills.