Early years programs need more active play, says U of T expert

Early years programs need more active play, says U of T expert

University of Toronto professor, John Cairney, thinks Canadians “could do a better job” when it comes to quality early years programming. In an interview with Valerie Iancovich from U of T News, professor Cairney comments on the latest movement guidelines for children aged 4 and under and what they mean for families.

In many cases, children have structured schedules much earlier in life as a result of daycare and school. According to Cairney, it’s very important that parents investigate programs and policies and ask the following questions:

  • How much of the day is devoted to active, free play?
  • Are all movement skill domains (fine, gross, balance) emphasized?
  • Is physical literacy a valued part of the program?

On the other hand, when families are together, “it is not about not having enough time but how we use the time we have,” says Cairney. This is the challenge in today’s busy culture. Another hurdle for families is ensuring that toddlers are getting enough “energetic play,” as research shows that young children are much more sedentary and less active than generations before them.

Movement guidelines are meant to support families and educators as they care for children from a young age. Experts like John Cairney can help make guidelines relatable so that parents can find the “fun” in FUNdamental skills.

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