The following is a blog post from Stephen Hunter, PhD Student in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation at the University of Alberta. He was part of the research group responsible for reviewing the evidence that was used to inform Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years: Ages 0-4 and Children and Youth: Ages 5-17. Read his first blog post, introducing the guidelines.
Moving throughout the day is important for child health and development. There are many benefits to moving more, from better overall health, strength and fitness, to improved self-esteem, learning and skill development. In stressful times such as during the global pandemic, increased movement and good quality sleep can also help improve a child’s mood and attention span, as well as their ability to handle the disruption to their normal routines.
How much time does my child need to spend moving in a 24-hour period?
Canada’s 24-hour guidelines offer advice for each age group (infant, toddler, preschooler and children and youth aged 5-17). We've summarized the guidelines so you can find information specific to your family.
Regardless of their age, children’s movement activities don't need to last for extended periods of time such as an hour or more; rather, they can be spread throughout the day in smaller chunks such as five or ten minutes at a time. What’s more important is to keep activities fun, interesting and age appropriate so children remain engaged.
Where do I find ideas to help my child keep active?
Below are some Canadian resources that provide numerous activities and alternatives to screen time for children of all ages.
A Canadian not-for-profit organization that has a number of activity ideas for children aged 1-12 years old. You can even filter activities by age and/or skill. Here are just a few:
- Animal friends is an activity for children aged 1-6 years and leads them through a series of animal-related movements.
- Balloon volleyball is an indoor game for children aged 5-10 that works on hand-eye coordination and can help build striking and catching skills.
- Outdoor golf toss is designed for children aged 6-12 years and is a great way to play outside and works on coordination of arms and torso, fine motor control and the ability to “read” distances.
An Albertan organization with many free and paid resources to support healthy physically active lifestyles, including during COVID-19. For example:
- The Indigenous Languages edition of Alphabet AniMoves is available for free and helps children get active, learn letters and the names of animals.
- Movement Dice templates are available for different age groups and languages. This brief video showcases how activities work.
- Adventure Play is a cool BINGO-styled game that requires certain movements and skills to be performed to get a BINGO! Read the guidelines for parents then download the BINGO sheet.
Access hundreds of resources for children aged 0-6 years.You will find activities broken down by age groups (infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarten), equipment available (none, some) or space available (on the spot, small space, open space). Some resources to explore:
- Lift and Look (infants): Have your baby lay on their back and speak to them while outside of their direct line of vision. Your baby’s head will move to follow the sound of your voice. You can also modify this activity by having your baby lay on their tummy.
- Bubble Chase (0-6 years): Take turns blowing and popping bubbles before they touch the ground. Using different body parts (elbows, knees, nose) is a great way to modify this activity to keep it fun and challenging!
- Body Part Balance (4-6 years): Ask your child to balance on different body parts (one leg), and have them hold the position for a count of three. As you say the next body part, try and have them transition smoothly to the next position. Including more body parts (one leg and one hand) is a great modification to keep it interesting!
Housed at the University of Alberta, the Centre for Active Living has compiled several resources from organizations across the country and around the world related to physical activity and sedentary behaviour for all ages. Filter by category (including active play, active outdoors, active indoors or at a distance and sedentary behaviour) or search for a topic.
A lot of great resources and strategies for all ages, including an interactive daily planner for 5 to 17-year-olds. This planner allows children to plan their activities for the day and provides tips on how their activities can meet the 24-hour movement recommendations.
How can the Library help?
The Edmonton Public Library has some great resources to encourage movement and play at home, including books, music and movies for kids of all ages. For younger children, acting out characters and scenes in books can be a creative way for children be active.
Looking for related material? Get moving today with these staff recommended picks:
- Children from 0-5 will love this selection of movement resources including books, music and movies. We’ve got titles related to dance, sports, yoga and more!
- For older kids, these fiction and non-fiction titles will inspire them to stay active.
- Missing sports? Watch this video to learn about great sports-related titles available at EPL.
Dancing is a great way for children to release some energy and can be as little as two or three songs a couple times throughout the day or a full-on dance party! Need some tunes to groove to?
- Check out this list of CDs and streaming options available for free with your library card.
- For a local option, listen to these kid-friendly tunes from singer Beppie on Capital City Records, EPL’s own source for great local music.
While in-person classes and events are currently cancelled due to the global pandemic, all EPL locations normally provide opportunities for kids to be active, whether playing with toys and games in our children’s spaces, dancing and moving during our popular Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn class for younger children or participating in a special events as part of our Spring Break and summer programs.
To get your kids moving and grooving at home this year, join Jen and Robyn from Glow Yoga Kids for a virtual yoga class on Tuesday, August 4 (registration is required) as part of the annual Summer Starts at EPL program. You can also sing and dance along with Peter Puffin, a popular children’s songwriter and educator.
Physical activity does not always have to be highly organized and long lasting. Finding ways to add more movements throughout the day is a great way to keep children active and enjoy health benefits. Keeping activities fun and adding modifications based on skill level are great ways to keep them interested!