Posted: September 27th, 2023
The Benefits of Physical Activity in Early Childhood Education
Clinical Field Experience A: Physical Activity
Physical activity is a component of children’s development that will be incorporated into everyday learning. Educators find creative ways to incorporate more movement and play in the early childhood classrooms.
Allocate at least 4 hours in the field to support this field experience.
Find a birth to Pre-K child care facility and have a discussion with a classroom teacher to gain insights on the following:
How much time children are allowed to participate in physical activity
How learning objectives are written to address physical activity
How lessons are designed to incorporate physical activity
Observe and take note of the types of physical activity in which the children participate. The birth to Pre-K child care facility that you choose is where you will spend all of your field experience hours for this course.
Use any remaining field experience hours to assist the teacher in providing instruction and support to the class.
Write a 250-500 word reflection based on your experience at the child care facility and your interview. Reflect upon and evaluate personal practice related to including physical activity and play in the lives of young children.
Address the following in your reflection:
How lesson plans can include physical activity
How educators can address the need for physical activity in the classroom
What you plan to implement into your future teaching practice
APA format is not required, but solid academic writing is expected.
This assignment uses a rubric. Review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite Technical Support Articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.
Document the locations and hours you spend in the field on your Clinical Field Experience Verification Form.
Submit the Clinical Field Experience Verification Form in the last topic. Directions for submitting can be found on the College of Education site in the Student Success Center.
The Benefits of Physical Activity in Early Childhood Education
Physical activity plays an important role in the holistic development of young children. Not only does regular movement and exercise support motor skills and physical health, it also enhances cognitive, social-emotional, and behavioral outcomes. Incorporating physical activity into early childhood education lesson plans allows children to reap these wide-ranging benefits while also meeting learning objectives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preschoolers should accumulate at least three hours of physical activity per day (CDC, 2022). This includes both structured and unstructured play. However, many early childhood programs struggle to provide adequate opportunities for movement throughout the day between transitions, mealtimes, nap schedules, and academic instruction (Pate et al., 2016). Educators must be intentional about incorporating physical activity into daily routines and curricula.
One strategy is to write learning objectives that directly address physical development. For example, an objective such as “Children will practice balancing and coordination by hopping, skipping, and galloping during outdoor play” ties motor skills to content. Lessons can then be designed around active learning experiences. For younger children especially, concepts like numbers, letters, and shapes can be taught through dance, obstacle courses, and games that require movement (Alhassan et al., 2013).
During my field experience observing a preschool classroom, I saw several examples of how physical activity was built into the day. In a math lesson, the teacher hid numbered foam shapes around the playground for children to find. This scavenger hunt not only reviewed numbers but also got all the students moving. During outdoor time, an obstacle course was set up with hula hoops, cones, and tunnels to practice coordination. The children also participated in yoga poses to learn about their bodies (Field notes, 2023).
Educators should take advantage of both indoor and outdoor spaces for physical activity. When weather prohibits going outside, indoor activity stations can be rotated through. Options include dance parties to music, follow-the-leader games, and movement incorporated into read-alouds (Vazou et al., 2020). Transitions between activities are another opportunity for brief bursts of exercise like animal walks or Simon Says.
Incorporating physical activity into early childhood education has wide-ranging benefits for children’s health, learning, and development (CDC, 2022; Pate et al., 2016; Alhassan et al., 2013). Educators play an important role in supporting these outcomes by thoughtfully planning lessons, activities, and routines with movement in mind. With creativity and intentionality, physical development can be seamlessly interwoven into the daily schedule to set young children up for success in school and life.
Alhassan, S., Nwaokelemeh, O., Mendoza, A., Shitole, S., Whitt-Glover, M. C., & Liu, Y. (2013). Feasibility and effects of short activity breaks for increasing preschoolers’ physical activity levels. Journal of School Health, 83(7), 526–533. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12058
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 14). Physical activity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm
Field notes. (2023, September). [Unpublished raw data]. Department of Education, Western Governors University. research essay writing service.
Pate, R. R., McIver, K., Dowda, M., Brown, W. H., & Addy, C. (2016). Directly observed physical activity levels in preschool children. Journal of School Health, 86(5), 338–344. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12371
Vazou, S., Pesce, C., Lakes, K., & Smiley-Oyen, A. (2019). More than one road leads to Rome: A narrative review and meta-analysis of physical activity intervention effects on cognition in youth. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(2), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2017.1406329