Structured Physical Activities
Children should participate in structured physical activities (teacher-led) two or more times each day. Children who develop gross motor skills at a young age are more likely to be physically active throughout their lives. Children do not naturally develop basic movement skills. As a result, it is important that early childhood professionals involve children in a variety of activities so they learn necessary skills and develop confidence in their physical abilities.
Children will also learn to enjoy physical activity if they are directed by well-informed staff who model how physical activity can be fun. Regular physical activity will teach children how to move their bodies and provide opportunities for practicing basic motor skills. During this time, educators can show children how to do certain activities and improve their skills in the activity.
Examples of structured physical activities (teacher-led):
Use these tips to incorporate structured physical activity:
- Find ways to add physical education into current lessons so that major schedule changes are not needed.
- Find and utilize activity resources.
- Attend training sessions to become more comfortable with and learn age-appropriate activities.
- Remember that being active with children can also help them create a healthier lifestyle.
- Give parents information about the importance of physical activity for physical, social and mental health.
- Invite parents to visit and join in organized activity sessions.
- Pick one child each week to share an active play idea.
- Give children a special prop, like a sock ball, and have them create a game with it. See how many ideas they come up with.
- Do structured activities in small doses, such as two 15-minute activities.
- Focus on process and technique over outcome.
- Repeat activities so children can practice their new skills.
Early childhood educators can create an environment that encourages cooperative play by emphasizing fun, participation and challenge when planning physical activities. When physical activities are fun they maximize participation. Make sure when planning physical activities to ensure no child is excluded or eliminated from play. Consider if equipment is required to participate in an activity and ensure sufficient equipment is available for all children to participate. There may be some competition, but games can be modified to maximize participation so that instead of losing or sitting out, children can continue to participate. Participation is also maximized when the teacher is an active role model. Participation rates increase when teachers engage in play and physical activity with children.