Family Health

17 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Care Provider About Physical Activity

May 1, 2015

Many preschool children spend hours a day in childcare settings. Deciding on the right childcare and keeping up on what’s going on there can be one of the biggest challenges parents face. Are they having fun? Are they learning? Are they eating right, making friends and getting enough physical activity?

In the United States, researchers developed a tool to help assess the quality of physical activity and play opportunities provided in childcare facilities.Based on this tool, we have developed a list of questions parents should ask their childcare provider to make sure their children are getting a healthy start in life.

Active Play and Inactive Time

1. How much active play is offered?
Children should be provided with at least 120 minutes of physical activity daily.

2. How often is teacher-led physical activity provided?
Teacher-led physical activity should be provided for all children at least twice daily.

3. How often is outdoor play provided?
Outdoor activities should be provided for all children at least twice daily.

4. Is active play time withheld from children who misbehave?
Active time should never be withheld as punishment, and should be offered as reward.

5. How often are children seated (excluding naps and meals) for more than 30 minutes at a time?
Children should not be seated for periods of more than 30 minutes.

6. What are the policies and practices around television and video use?
Television or videos should be rarely or never shown.

Play Environment Recommendations

7. What type of fixed play equipment (i.e., climbing equipment, tunnels, and overhead ladders) is available?
A variety of fixed play equipment should be available to all children.

8. What type of portable play equipment is available?
A large variety of portable play equipment should be available for simultaneous use by all children.

9. How often is outdoor portable play equipment available?
Outdoor portable play equipment should be freely available to all children at all times.

10. What does the outdoor play space include?
Outdoor play spaces should include open, grassy areas and a track or path for wheeled toys.

11. Is there indoor play space available for active play?
Indoor space should be available for all activities, including running.

Supporting Physical Activity

12. What do staff do during active play time?
Staff should frequently encourage children to be active and join children in active play.

13. What support for physical activity is visibly displayed in classrooms and common areas?
Posters, pictures or books about physical activity should be displayed in every room.

Physical Activity Education for Staff, Children and Parents

14. How often are staff members offered training in physical activity?
Physical activity training should be provided to staff at least twice per year.

15. How often are children provided physical activity education through a standardized curriculum?
Physical activity education should be provided to children via standardized curriculum at least once a week.

16. How often are parents offered physical activity education (i.e. workshops, activities and take-home materials)?
Physical activity education opportunities should be provide to parents at least twice a year.

Physical Activity Policy

17. Does the childcare centre have a written policy on physical activity that covers most of the above topics?
Written policies on physical activity should be available and followed.

1. Ammerman, AS, Benjamin, SE, Sommers, JK, Ward, DS. 2004. The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC) environmental self-assessment instrument.
Division of Public Health, NC DHHS, Raleigh, NC, and the Centre for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Revised May 2007.

Article Author Moblees and ParticipACTION
Moblees and ParticipACTION

The Moblees is a multi-platform "Movement Movement" designed to promote healthy active living among Canadian children. Along with partner organization ParticipACTION, The Moblees aims to provide early intervention strategies to reduce childhood obesity and to inspire a foundational change in the way children and their families move through their daily lives.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.