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Service policy

children bowling

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 & 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:

Active play

Active play includes spontaneous and intentionally planned play, active transport and everyday physical tasks. All four types of play belong in an early childhood service's program.

Spontaneous play is creative and 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.

Intentionally planned play 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 younger than 2 years of age should not be provided with any screen time. Screen time for children under 2 years has not been shown to lead to any improvements in health, intelligence or language development.
  • Children aged 2-5 years should spend no more than 1 hour on screen time (less is better).