Physical activity questions

Move Well Eat Well is a whole school and service approach for ALL children, but are you thinking or
talking about these more complex issues?

Here are some of the more complex questions and answers that are being asked by teachers, educators and families.

This information has been supplied by the Tasmanian Department of Health, Public Health Services.

My child loves playing sport. What are some snacks and drinks to pack on game day?

Active kids need everyday foods that provide fuel for energy, nutrients for growth and development and hydration.

Water is the best drink for active children and it’s important to make sure they have enough water available during sport to stay hydrated. It is also important to make sure children are well hydrated before they start playing sport, and that they continue to drink water after the game. Children do not need to drink sports drinks as these are high in sugar and can cause tooth decay.

If you want to provide half-time snacks, choose everyday foods. Fruit is a great option as it is a good source of energy and contains water for hydration. Choosing fruit as a half time snack is a great way to increase children’s fruit intake. The easiest fruit to eat during sports include:

  • sliced oranges
  • slices of watermelon
  • apples
  • bananas
  • grapes.

Often, active kids are playing multiple games on the same day. Packing everyday foods to eat throughout the day will help keep them fuelled for the day. Some good options include:

  • yoghurt with fruit
  • salad sandwiches
  • plain air popped popcorn
  • plain rice cakes with toppings (for example cheese, tomato, avocado).

How can I encourage my child to be more physically active?

    Human bodies like to move, and the body is happiest when doing a range of movements. Children are no different. The best thing you can do is provide fun opportunities for your children both indoors and outside:

  • Organising a scavenger hunt in the backyard or at your local park
  • Using chalk outside to create hopscotch
  • Playing music and encouraging children to dance and move.
  • It’s important to model the behaviour you want from your child. If you are on your phone or tablet, this reinforces for your children this behaviour is okay. Similarly, if you are active it is more likely your children will copy this behaviour and be active as well.

    If you don’t have a lot of time you can add extra physical activity into your day by using active travel. Active travel is where you walk, ride or scoot to where you need to go. The easiest way to use active travel when you have children may be to walk or ride to and from school or child care.

    Active travel is a great way to get moving as a family. Try and drive part of the way and walk the rest. If pick up and drop off times are too busy for you, consider joining with other families and take turns walking children to school, it’s active and social.

    If you feel comfortable your child is independent enough, encourage them to walk to school either part or all the way. Often children love the responsibility of getting themselves to school.

Is it OK to reward my child with screen time?

Children will want to use screens (as we all do). It’s easy to go online to do one thing, and then realise that 20 minutes has passed. Children are the same as adults but often without the self-control. So as adults it is up to us to limit the availability and access to screens. It’s important to discuss your screen time limits as a family and make decisions together. As time spent on screens is time taken away from physical activity, the recommendations for screen time are:

  • Children under 2 have no screen time
  • Children aged 2-5 get less than one hour screen time and
  • Children aged 5-17 should aim to get less than two hour’s screen time a day. This does not include time spent on screens for homework.

By using screens as a reward, it makes them more desirable for children. Instead of offering screens as rewards offer:

  • A family walk or a picnic on the weekend
  • If you can’t get outside you can offer to sit and do a puzzle or play a family game together
  • Cooking something together as a family.

For more ideas on switching screen time to active play visit the 'Turn Off Switch to Play' section of the Move Well Eat Well website.

How much sleep does my child need so they can be active during the day?

Sleep is important for our physical and mental health. It gives us time to rest, recover and grow.

How much sleep children needs depends on their age:

  • Children aged 0-5 years need between 10-17 hours sleep a day depending on their age (the younger they are the more sleep they require). Check out the Australian 24 Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (birth to 5 years) for the recommendations.
  • From about five years of age, children no longer need a day sleep if they’re getting enough sleep overnight.
  • Children aged 5-13 years need between 9-11 hours of sleep a night.

To help children sleep well, try:

  • Setting a routine for sleeping. Aim to get them to bed at the same time each night
  • Keep bedrooms screen free zones
  • Don’t let your children use screens at least one hour before bed time.

For more information check out the Australian 24 Hour Movement Guidelines

Is risky play safe for my child?

We all want the best for our children. This includes keeping them safe while they play. Falls and running into people and things are the top reasons for a child going to hospital.

We know play is how children develop and learn. How do we get the balance right between being safe and allowing risk?

Risky play includes:

  • heights - climbing a tree
  • speed - swinging, sliding, riding
  • using tools - a hammer or saw
  • exploring - when children feel they can disappear or get lost
  • rough and tumble play - play wrestling.

Risky play is exciting and fun

It is also good for children.

  • They are active and this builds motor and spatial skills (an awareness of what is around them).
  • It helps them learn social and emotional skills. For example, how to manage conflict or emotions such as fear or aggression.
  • It builds independence, self-esteem, resilience and a sense of achievement.
  • It lets children test their limits. This helps them see and manage risks.

Keeping children safe during play is important

Here are some ways to do this:

  • Remove hazards that children can’t see for themselves. For example, broken or dangerous equipment that could cause serious injury.
  • Set basic rules to help children be safe while they play. For example, how far they can explore out of your sight, to watch out for others and to wear safety glasses. Get them to help make and apply the rules themselves.
  • Supervise children at play. But give them the space to be independent. It may surprise you what they can do!
  • Provide guidance and support along the way. Instead of physically helping, encourage and talk your child through the risks.

I've heard about fundamental movement skills. What does that mean?

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) are the building blocks for movement and form the basis for many of the skills required in sports and physical activity.

There are 12 Fundamental Movement Skills:

Catch, kick, overhand throw, strike, basketball bounce, underarm roll, run, leap, hop, slide, horizontal jump and gallop.

Movement Skills do not develop on their own. Children need to be taught and then they need to practice these skills. Children who develop these skills are more likely to involved in sport as adults. This means they are more likely to be active.

Children should have lots of opportunities to practice these skills. Skills are taught in schools but it is still important to do practice these skills at home.