Preschool education is important for developing children mind and body. Teachers and parents have to pay attention to physical activity because it will define children’s development in future. Physiotherapists make research, which covers around 1500 children at preschool age. The aim of the study is to show what the level of physical activity in preschool activities is, is it enough, and how to improve it. But first, let’s see how much time kids spend in preschool. The average time one kid spends in preschool is around 7 hours and 45 minutes. Most of it, children play, sleep or eat. Sounds like they have some physical activity but lets found out what physiotherapists in Singapore find out.
What the level of physical activity is in preschools?
Educational methods include mostly sedentary behaviour. For people, who are not familiar with this term we will explain that it means the child is sitting while playing or studying. Children stay in the classroom and play on the floor with almost no physical activity. They pay in large groups where space and movements are limited. In some preschool running indoors is forbidden because there is a higher risk of traumas. In addition, children spend at least 2 hours in bed and half an hour in eating which is also sedentary activities.
If we pay attention to the outdoor activities – the size of the yard matters. It is proven that sandbox, water and construction toys are decreasing the level of physical activity.
Why physical activity is so important for children between 2-6 years?
This is the age where children gain physical and emotional experience. If you limit the activity of one child he literally won’t be able to explore and learn. Studies show how the levels of activity are important about obesity, cardiometabolic system and bone density. In addition, children, who are fit have a better ability to learn and remember new things. In this age, remembering is extremely important.
Every physiotherapist in Singapore in Physioactive knows the term MVPA which means a higher level of activity – moderate to vigorous. Children are considered to have mean MVPA if they have only 16 minutes per day jumping, running or other similar activities. Special research finds out they need between 60 and 120 minutes every day in order to have maximum development and good bone mineralization.
If we dig into the data, we will find out that boys have few points higher MVPA than girls but it is still not enough.
What does physiotherapist recommend in this case?
Sedentary behaviour should be limited as much as possible. Handling activities are important but not more important than running and jumping. Preschools should have a bigger internal environment and a bigger playground outside. Rules and routines are also good for children education but knowing that they sometimes do not apply is also extremely important. In the indoor premises, physiotherapist recommends to have pushing and pulling equipment. Along with portable slides and jumping trampolines, they will make a perfect environment for higher MVPA. Racing, jumping and scaling should be a daily plan, not a one-time experience. A study shows that children play more actively with fixed equipment than with a portable one. For example, they prefer marking on the floor than portable waterslides. They burn more energy and increase the level of MVPA easily.
In conclusion, physiotherapists claim that static toys should be limited and preschools should pay more attention to what part of their activities are sedentary. Having more area for jumping and running will give the children a sense of happiness and will help their bone structure develops properly.