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Service policy

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Developing a physical activity policy

The best way for an early childhood service to integrate various considerations on physical activity for children is to develop a physical activity policy. This can be a separate policy or part of the general policy of the service. Service policies need to cover important issues such as development of fundamental movement skills, active play and sedentary screen time. See more on these below.

To assist services to develop or review their physical activity policy a sample Munch & Move physical activity and small screen policy can be modified to reflect specific practices of your service.

While you are on the Munch and Move resources page, you might want to check out other nutrition related resources and links for valuable supporting information.

Fundamental Movement Skills

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) are a specific set of gross motor movements that involve different body parts such as the feet, legs, trunk, hands, arms and head. These skills are the building blocks for more complex skills needed to competently participate in games, sports and recreational activities in the future.

Early childhood educators should support children in the development of FMS. Children don’t naturally learn these skills without some help.

There are three main groups of FMS:

  • Stability skills such as stretching, bending, twisting and balancing 
  • Locomotor skills such as crawling, walking, running, jumping, galloping, hopping
  • Manipulative skills such as throwing, catching, kicking, striking a stationary ball.

Active play

Active play includes unstructured ‘free’ play, structured ‘planned’ play, active transport and everyday physical tasks. All four types of play belong in an early childhood service's program.

Unstructured play is creative and spontaneous play that gives children the freedom to move at their own pace and decide how they will play, what they will do and where it will take place. Examples include dancing to music and free play in playgrounds.

Structured play is planned play that may take place at set times, have rules and need special equipment. Examples include action songs and action games.

Active transport involves using physical activity, such as walking or pedalling to travel. Families can be encouraged to use active transport in place of car travel where possible. Physical tasks such as gardening and packing up are part of active play.

Sedentary (still) behaviour and screen time

Limiting long periods of time where children are inactive is just as important as making sure they do enough activity. Screen time (TV, DVDs, computer and other electronic games) is an important consideration and the Department of Health recommends that:

  • Children aged 2 to 5 years should spend less than 1 hour per day watching television and using other electronic media
  • Children younger than 2 years should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media.