Doing what’s best for preschoolers: More jumping, dancing, and active play

DSC_0020Until recently, it was generally assumed that young children would naturally get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. But new research highlighted in this Seattle Times piece is showing that’s not the case.

At the same time, evidence is showing the pay-off of doubling down on prevention in the early years including creating environments that support children’s access to physical activity and nutrition.

I talked with Kalayaan Domingo, a specialist in healthy eating and active living at Public Health. She described some new approaches that support childcare settings in providing more opportunities for active play.

Why are child care settings so important to work with?

Approximately 80% of all U.S. children ages 2 to 5 with working mothers are in child care settings for an average of almost 40 hours a week. By working with in-home and formal childcare settings, we have an opportunity to reach a large number of our kids. Plus, there is a real need. A survey found that less than 20% of preschoolers in Washington are getting the recommended two hours of activity each day.

What are some of the challenges child care providers face? 

Overwhelmingly, providers agree that child care is an important setting for promoting healthy eating and physical activity, yet they face several challenges. Providers don’t always have access to curriculum and training to integrate movement into activities. Lack of space and poor weather can pose challenges. And with an increased emphasis on kindergarten readiness, childcare providers have that on their plates too.

What are the opportunities for supporting child care providers in their effort to increase active play?

We are very excited about new partnerships with Horn of Africa Services, Child Care Resources and City of Seattle Human Services to connect in-home child cares with curriculum and training to integrate movement into daily activities. Our partners will also be able to provide information in multiple languages.

This initiative is part of our comprehensive work to increase access to healthy food and physical activity through the Partnerships to Improve Community Health.

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