Daycare Activity: Best Practices | . | Rick Voakes

In light of the current obesity epidemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics has formulated guidelines for daycare centers, recommending the best practices known for optimal fitness of children who attend. Although diet is the prime concern in making positive interventions with obesity, physical activity can be a significant factor.

The guidelines were assembled by a panel of experts based on current research on how different types of activity and environment can affect pre-schoolers' weight. Then they looked at 96 different day care centers across the state of North Carolina, and found that only a few of these guidelines were being met at present. There are no states that have comprehensive guidelines for physical activity in daycare centers. Parents and other concerned citizens need to contact their legislators to start working on this needed daycare regulation.

There are 8 specific guidelines that were recommended:

Active Opportunities.

120 minutes of active playtime per day

Teacher-led physical activity at least twice a day

Outdoor activity at least twice a day

Fixed Play Environment.

Outdoor play area with grassy areas and a path for wheeled toys

Indoor play space suitable for running and other activities

Variety of fixed play equipment


Portable Play Environment.

Large variety of portable play equipment.

Outdoor portable play equipment available at all times.


Sedentary Opportunities.

Limit TV or videos to rarely or never.

Children should not stay seated for over 30 minutes.


Sedentary Environment.

TV sets, screens, video games should not be visible to the children (limit as much as possible).

Posters and visible environment should support physical activity, not sedentary activity.


Staff Behavior.

Staff should join children in active play.

Staff should encourage children to be active.

Active playtime should not be withheld as a punishment.

Conversely, additional active playtime should be given as a reward.


Training/Education for Staff, Children and Parents

Physical activity education is provided to children at least once a week and to parents and staff at least twice a year.


Physical Activity Policies.

Policies are in writing, and followed.


       Source: Pediatrics, 124(6):1650, Dec 09

© Rick Voakes 2021