Preschoolers need to get a move on

30/01/2012 6:06

I read this and hear the Pink Floyd theme playing in the background  – poor little buggers, who can’t skip?

Studies are great! Usually they just quantify the obvious, the things that most people who work in Early Childhood Education already know. They’re a bit like statistics, great to have in case you ever need to back up points in a paper your writing but unless something eventuates from them they’re just cheap wrapping paper or doomed to the bargain book bin.

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above 

Most children at child care centers, preschools and nursery schools spend hours doing sedentary activities and aren’t spending much time playing outside, research has shown.

A new analysis suggests possible reasons include concerns about injuries and parents’ pressure on schools to pursue academic pursuits such as teaching kids shapes, colors and the ABCs.

“We know children learn through play, including vigorous play,” says Kristen Copeland, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s lead author. “They practice fundamental motor skills like skipping, playing with balls, jumping and climbing.” Physical activity helps prevent excessive weight gain and helps children develop healthy habits that can last them a lifetime, she says. But such play is getting squeezed out because of other priorities.

“These kids finish preschool and don’t know how to skip, and that doesn’t upset their parents as long as they know their ABCs and can count to 10,” Copeland says.

The study, published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that educators said they know vigorous activity is important to children. But they cited several barriers, including concerns about injuries, focus on academics and limited outdoor space and playground equipment.

It doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment for children to be active, Copeland says. “They just need to be taken outside and given the time, space and freedom to run. Many kids spend all day in child care, so this may be their only chance to be physically active.”

Tess Michaels