Recent research shows that children spend about 70% to 83% of their time in child care centers being sedentary, not counting the time spent eating and napping. About 2% to 3% of the time is spent in vigorous activities. This study published in “Pediatrics,” the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that educators said they know vigorous physical activity (physical activity that can produce fatigue in a short period of time and is performed at an intensity in which heart rate and breathing are elevated to levels higher than those observed for moderate physical activity--activity that is easily maintained and is performed at an intensity that increases heart rate and breathing) is important to children. But they cited several barriers, including concerns about injuries, parent’s pressure on schools to pursue academics, and limited outdoor space and playground equipment. We know it doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment for children to be active. They just need to be given the time and opportunity to engage in structured physical activity (activity planned and directed by a parent, caregiver or teacher, and that is designed to accommodate the infant, toddler or preschooler’s developmental level and unstructured physical activity (child-initiated physical activity that occurs as the child explores his or her environment). Teachers need to intentionally plan moderateto vigorous physical activities every day. Please see this previous post: Why Should We Get Our Kids Moving.
I’ve designed a Daily Physical Activity Chart which helps you and your students to actually document their physical activity. It asks, “Can you do something physically active for 40 minutes every day of the week? Color in a wedge each time you complete five minutes of physical activity outdoors or inside!” If the children spend 10 minutes outdoors in unstructured play, color in two five-minute wedges. If you led the children in a five-minute structured physically active game, such as Driving with Hoops! color in a five-minute wedge. I recommend assigning one child each day to be “in charge” of coloring in the wedges or sections (with markers or crayons) on the ball. Perhaps, the first day you do this, only half of the ball (20 minutes) was filled in. The next day aim for 25 minutes of physical activity. With your Planning, Encouragement, and Participation (PEP) you can ensure that the entire blank ball turns into a colorful ball! Feel free to make copies of this document and post five balls on the wall at the children’s eye level so they can document and see their progress for the week (click here for a weekly chart). Need more ideas of what to do for structured physical activity? Don’t forget to browse the archives of this blog, or better yet, invite me (www.sharronkrull.com) to come to your school or organization to present my physical activity workshop, “Get Your Motor Running! Fun Physical Activities for Young Children.” As Aristotle said, “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing."