Physical activity is important for young children’s health and development, yet most 3- to 5-year-old’s are not getting the two hours per day of recommended physical activity. A study in Pediatrics found that kids simply are not given enough opportunities for active play.
In the study, researchers observed 98 children from 10 child care centers in the Seattle area. All of the centers had scheduled at least 60 minutes per day of outdoor play time, and they all had outdoor play areas as well as indoor space for physical activity.
On average, children had 48 minutes per day of active play opportunities and only 33 minutes per day of actual outdoor time. They were more likely to be active when they were outdoors and engaged in free play, rather than in teacher-led activities indoors or outdoors.
It goes without saying that children should have more opportunities for active play during preschool. Some strategies to achieve this would be to increase outdoor time, allow for more child-initiated and teacher-led active play, and better flexibility in nap time schedules for older preschoolers.