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Physical Activity for Children

Growing and Developing

Children are growing and developing their bodies and minds. They are building their balance and coordination, and learning new movements, such as walking, running, jumping, catching, throwing and swimming. They are learning through play with others, alone and by exploring and interacting with the world around them. Physical activity and being outdoors in nature are both key to their development.

Activity, Sleep and Screen Time – How Much and Tips

It is recommended that;

  • Children age 0–4 be active daily. For example, children age 0–1 need interactive floor play several times a day, while children age 1–4 need 180 minutes of activity daily). For ideas see the Tummy Time resource, and the Let’s Play on the Floor resource.
  • Children ages 5–11 do moderate to vigorous activity daily. For example, 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, including activities that involve muscle strength – 3 times a week, or more.
  • Children minimize sedentary time. Sit less and move more throughout the day.
  • Children reduce screen time. Below 2 years old, no screen time is recommended. For children over 2 years of age, limit screen time to 1 hour or less per day. Do you find you or your family are “addicted” to your screens? Try to pause your screens and spend that extra time with family and friends and being active. Willing to take the leap? Try our Pause to Play Challenge.
  • Children get enough sleep. For example, children ages 5–13 get 9–11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, with consistent bed and wake-up times). For support with sleep, bedtime routines and behaviours see tips from Triple P.

Here are some tips on meeting the 24 hour movement guidelines for kids.

Activity Milestones – The First Three Years

This resource outlines the growth and development milestones related to physical activity for your infant/toddler.

Activity Benchmarks – For 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds

This resource outlines the movement and physical skills related to growth and development for your preschooler.

Play Activities – Ages 1–3

10 fun things to help a your toddler develop good physical skills.

Play Activities – Ages 3–6

10 fun things to help your preschooler develop good physical skills.

For more ideas to get your kids active, try some of these activities, for kids aged 0–12. Children are more active when they are out in nature. See these ideas for how to get your kids out playing in nature!

Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds

It is important for children to have both a healthy body and a healthy mind, as body and mind affect each other. Ignoring either one could affect your physical and mental health. For tips, have a look at our fact sheets;

Physical Literacy

Children who are physically literate are more active, healthy and engaged.

What is it?

Physical Literacy is developing fundamental movement skills, such as hopping, balancing, running, throwing, catching. This leads to fundamental sport skills, and practicing these in various decision making situations, in a variety of environments: ground, water, snow, ice and air.


Having opportunities to increase physical literacy in children will build their confidence and competence and will result in;

  • Better learning in school,
  • Better mental and emotional wellbeing,
  • Improved social skills,
  • Improved physical health and fitness,
  • Healthier habits,
  • Being on a path to becoming active for life.

Learning how to build physical literacy is a great place to start. Here are some ideas to get you started;

  • Trying out new and different activities where a variety of different movement skills can be learned, practiced and then combined into more difficult movements. Looking for some ideas to help you teach children a variety of different fundamental movement skills? See the Best Start Have a Ball Together website for a list of activities.
  • Making activities fun and challenging, and learning through positive experiences that involve success and failure. See Toy’s for Tiny Tots for helpful ideas.
  • A gradual introduction to an audience is best. Start off with one person, then two or three, and so on.
  • Making sure the activity starts off comfortable and playful and keeping everyone involved together helps to improve the confidence in being active in front of others.
  • There are lots of tools for educators in schools and for child care providers, to assist them in providing excellent opportunities for physical activity, and to help build physical literacy in children.