Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and lays the foundation for a healthy and active life. There are many ways that children can be active including involvement in active play, games, organised activities, sports and active transport.
Make sure you give young children plenty of opportunities to move and be active throughout the day, both indoors and outdoors, and keep periods of inactivity no longer than one hour at a time.
Early childhood education and care services (ECEC) are ideally placed to foster the development of good physical activity habits early in life and to positively influence families’ attitudes towards encouraging physical activity on a regular basis.
ECEC services should offer a wide range of play-based, active learning experiences that link to children’s interests, abilities, identity and prior knowledge.
- Tummy Time
From birth, babies should be provided with the opportunity to play on their tummy every day for short periods of supervised time, increasing with age and ability to help develop their movement skills. The 24 Hour Movement Guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes per day.
Tummy time helps babies:
- Develop their movement skills- rolling, sitting, crawling and standing
- Learn to lift their head and take weight through their arms
- Strengthen their neck and back muscles
- Develop spatial awareness and balance
Educators can support a baby’s development through close interactions during active play and tummy time experiences. They should ensure babies don’t spend significant portions of the day in a seat, swing or highchair.
Educators also have the important role to talk to parents about the importance of tummy time at home for their infants. For ideas on how your service can promote tummy time and share information, download the Munch & Move Tummy Time Posters and other resources here.
- Active Play
The Australian 24 Hour Movement Guidelines state toddlers and preschools should be physically active for at least 3 hours every day, spread throughout the day, which can be difficult to meet. Munch & Move can help with ideas of how early childhood educators can encourage physical activity for different age groups, such as easy ways to include physical activity into your daily routine by making games, story time and transitions active; ideas on how to setup your environment to encourage physical activity; wet weather and extreme heat ideas and the types of equipment you might need.
- Fundamental Movement Skills
Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) are a specific set of gross motor skills that involve different body parts. These skills are the building blocks for more complex skills that children will learn throughout their lives to competently participate in games, sports and recreational activities.
Children need to be taught how to correctly perform FMS as part of their growth and development. Educators should provide children with intentional opportunities to practice these skills to encourage development and confidence. The earlier that FMS are introduced through play and exploration, the more likely children will be to engage in physical activity throughout their lives. Learn more about Fundamental Movement Skills on our FMS page.
Having a service policy that reflects the Munch & Move key move messages is an important step to show your service is committed to supporting Munch & Move and the Australian 24 Hour Movement Guidelines.
Your Munch & Move Support Officer can assist your service in developing a new Physical Activity Policy, or reviewing an existing policy. To help get you started we have a sample policy that includes all the key elements. Download the sample policy, use it as is or adjust it to reflect your service’s practices.
We offer a range of free training options and resources for educators working in centre-based early childhood services and Family Day Care in western Sydney to help you deliver the best program possible.
- Role Modelling
Physical activity is an important part of being healthy, especially for children. Munch & Move encourages educators to support physical activity both inside and outside for children of all ages.
Educators can role model physical activity behaviours by participating to the best of their own ability in outdoor play with the children, demonstrating fundamental movement skills, dancing in music and movement, stretching or leading organised games. This encourages participation and create a supportive environment for physical activity in care.
Munch & Move also recommends services include information about educators role modelling physical activity behaviours their relevant policies.
- Move Case Studies
To help get you started or for fresh ideas on implementing Munch & Move in your service, check out these videos from other Munch & Move services to see how easy it is to plan active play opportunities throughout the day, add more physical activity to your existing program and adapt the children’s favourite games and songs to include FUNdmanetal movement skills:
- Move Resources
We have a range of resources for download to help you as educators encourage and support physical activity in your services. These resources promote indoor and outdoor game ideas, support you to teach fundamental movement skills and encourage active play. We also have policy guidance templates and resources to help you embed physical activity into your daily routine.
NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) 2015