Course:KIN366/ConceptLibrary/Childcare Environments

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Movement Experiences For Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
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Childcare environments are defined as anything outside of the home such as, childcare facilities and the built environment. Childcare environments have evolved throughout the twenty first century because there has been a dramatic social shift in the work force. Many mothers have increased their participation in the workforce and are increasingly using the non-parental early childhood education and care system (Bower et al., 2008; Davis, Eivers & Thorpe, 2012). With this change in society, it is an excellent window of opportunity to promote physical activity and early childhood developmental behaviours through childcare environments (Bower et al., 2008; Davis, et al., 2012). Furthermore, there is an increased universality and a premature onset of childhood obesity, which supplements the significance of promoting healthy behaviours during childhood (Bower et al., 2008).

Childhood Obesity and Childcare Environments

One of the most important reasons for changing childcare environments is childhood obesity. This complication is currently an ongoing epidemic and has been increasing over the past three decades (Han, Lawlor & Kimm, 2010). Childhood obesity is defined as an excess of body fat (Stewart, 2015). This difficult situation can cause many consequences as a child grows into an adult. There are physical and emotional consequences such as, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type II diabetes and low self esteem (Stewart, 2015). Therefore, we need to change the way children are being raised in childcare environments. With that being said, childcare environments are crucial for preventing obesity because childcare environments allow for easy modifications to a child’s diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour (Natale, et al., 2014). This is because there has been an increasing amount of children participating in the non-parental early childhood education and care system (Bower et al., 2008). Furthermore, it will reduce risk factors for obesity and reduce the chance of receiving physical or emotional consequences.

Promotion of Nutrition and Physical Activity in Childcare Environments

Within the past 30 years there has been an increase in child obesity in ages 2-5 years by 7.4%, ages 6-11 years by 9.5%, and in ages 12-19 years by 12.6%. Due to these substantial increases within the age groups, physical activity and nutritional factors must be addressed in order to reverse major health concerns in the future (Natale, Page & Sanders, 2014). Childcare facilities are responsible for the majority of children in the twenty first century (Bower et al., 2008). Therefore, these childcare facilities must provide the necessary health practices to improve the general health of the younger population. To address these issues, childcare facilities have reported that they are responsible for 50-100% of a child’s recommended daily dietary allowances in a childcare environment (Natale, et al., 2014). Therefore, more nutritional dietary regulations must be put into effect. In addition, these childcare facilities must increase physical activities indoors and outdoors as well as reducing television time and reducing the consumption of juice (Natale, et al., 2014).


The promotions of increasing physical activity and correcting nutrition, some guidelines have been put into play (Zehr, Duggan, Paterson, Warburton, Janssen, Rhodes & Tremblay, 2011).

1. For health benefits, children ages 5 to 11 years and youth ages 12 to 17 years should collect at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous level of intensity of physical activity each day. This should include:

  • Vigorous intensity activities at least 3 days per week.
  • Activities that strengthen bone and muscle at least 3 days per week
  • More daily physical activity provides greater health benefits.

2. For the development of infants aged less than 1 year should be physically active multiple times during the day. These physical activities include interactive floor based play. For toddlers, aged 1 to 2 years and preschooler’s ages 3 to 4 years should collect at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity throughout the day. This should include:

  • A variety of activities in different environments.
  • Activities that develop movement skills.
  • Progression toward at least 60 minutes of energetic play by 5 years of age
  • More daily physical activity provides greater benefits.

Types of Childcare Facilities

There are two types of childcare facilities. They are both responsible for differences in nutrition and physical activity standards.

In Home Childcare Facilities

In home childcare facilities is a family run childcare facility. This type of childcare is usually in someone’s home and is licensed to care for 6 to 12 children (Natale, et al., 2014). Within In Home childcare facilities, nutrition has been deemed fairly healthy. In Home childcare facilities have revealed that they provide a significant amount of fresh fruit to the children and a limited amount of bread (Natale, et al., 2014). These facilities have also prepared nutritional lessons that allow children and parents to be educated on the basics of health and nutrition (Natale, et al., 2014). In regards to physical activity, In Home childcare facilities are limited to the available space that would allow increases of physical activity (Natale, et al., 2014). However, they are able to have indoor physical activity if space allows (Natale, et al., 2014). In addition, television and video game limitations were lower in In Home childcare facilities in comparison to Out of Home facilities (Natale, et al., 2014).

Out of Home Childcare Facilities

Out of Home childcare facilities is a public childcare center. This type of childcare facility is usually in a classroom like setting that is licensed to 20 children (Natale, et al., 2014). In regards to nutrition, studies have shown that Out of Home childcare facilities are less healthy because of the high levels of mean fat (10%+) and the low mean levels of nutrients and energy (Oakley, Bomba, Knight & Byrd, 1995). Furthermore, in a recent study by Ball, Benjamin and Ward (2008), discovered that in Out of Home childcare facilities gave children of 2 to 5 years, whole milk and meats that are high in fat or of a fried variety. Concerning physical activity, Out of Home childcare facilities were deemed a strong determinant of physical activity among children (Finn, Johannsen & Specker, 2002). These Out of Home childcare facilities have multiple daily programs that may influence physical activity in children (Finn, et al., 2002). Some of these activities may use indoor or outdoor spaces. However, not many In Home childcare facilities have an opportunity to provide outdoor activities in comparison to Out of Home childcare facilities (Finn, et al., 2002). Also, the type of equipment and supervision that Out of Home childcare facilities have may influence physical activity (Finn, et al., 2002). As a result, physical activity levels in Out of Home childcare facilities are generally higher than In Home childcare facilities because of the outdoor activities that are available (Natale, et al., 2014). However, there is no significant difference in levels of indoor physical activity in comparison between Out of Home and In Home childcare facilities (Natale, et al., 2014). On the other hand, limiting television and video games were more prominent in Out of Home childcare facilities (Natale, et al., 2014).

Income Zones of In Home and Out of Home Childcare Facilities

Income zones are socioeconomic areas that are deemed high, moderate, or low income. Based on these income zones, physical activity and nutrition must be assessed between the locations of the In Home or Out of home childcare facilities. After analyzing income zones, indoor, outdoor, and television use were dependent on the type of facility (Natale, et al., 2014). However, the nutritional factors were not dependent on the type of facility (Natale, et al., 2014). The nutritional factors were completely different in different income zones and the research is deemed insignificant (Natale, et al., 2014).

Fundamental Movement Skills and Critical Periods

Despite the efforts to improve childcare facilities with better nutritional plans and physical activity programs, there are many limitations that restrict a child from getting their physical activity, healthy nutrition, and the development of fundamental movement skills through critical periods (Temple & O'Connor, 2005).

Fundamental Movement Skills

Fundamental movement skills are defined as basic movement skills that most developing children learn as they grow (Carson, 1994; Gallahue & Ozmun, 2006; Seefeldt, 1980). These movement patterns form the fundamentals of physical activity, sport, and recreation (Carson, 1994; Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998; Seefeldt, 1980). With that being said, these movement skills are best developed and advanced in an environment that supports the physical activity of children. Childcare facilities, whether In Home or Out of Home facilities must provide the physical affordances to accommodate the children in their care. Fundamental movement skill are a strong concern for many children because many critical periods occur during the period of childcare and some of the environments may not present the opportunity or give much attention to advance their developmental skills (Taggart & Keegan, 1997). With that being said, it is important that movement skills are developed during the preschool years. Furthermore, children should be motivated to participate in developing movement skills and be associated in more physical activity (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2002). The types of activities that young children should be doing are manipulation skills using different locomotor and non-locomotor equipment (Carson, 1994; Gallahue & Ozmun, 2006; Sanders, 1992).

Critical Periods

Critical periods are defined as periods where the brain is extremely susceptible to obtaining many types of motor skills (Hensch, 2004). It is a time frame that a child is exposed to external stimulations such that they have the opportunity to experience external stimulations to advance their motor development (Hensch, 2004). With that being said, this window of opportunity is extremely important for early experiences that will greatly affect the future of a child (Gale, O’Callaghan, Godfrey, Law & Martyn, 2004).

Childcare Physical Activity Environments

There are multiple types of childcare physical activity environments. However, the majority is focused on outdoor activities. Physical activity is generally higher outdoors because there is more space and it allows children to activate their large muscle groups and an overall higher level of physical activity in comparison to an indoor environment (Deal, 1993). One of the best outdoor activities are integrated in the built environment. The built environment can contain multiple variations of learning and play settings for children in the community. These areas will support children in play and learn activities such as water and sand play (the beach), lawn gardens, animal habitats, community and family gatherings at playgrounds or parks (Cosco, Moore & Smith, 2014). Furthermore, the installation of community gardens have given children the opportunity to receive hands on gardening activities and experiences to further their motor development and physical activity (Cosco, et al., 2014). The gardens also brought communities together and provided a meaningful purpose to improve and create more environments for children to learn, play, and be physically active (Cosco, et al., 2014).

Strengths and Weaknesses of Childcare Facilities for Practical Application

Strengths and weaknesses of childcare facilities are very important because they will allow parents to choose if they want their child to participate in childcare facilities or even choosing which type of childcare facilities that they think is best for their child.


Some strengths that childcare facilities possess are that they allow for children to interact with children their own age (Natale, et al., 2014). They also provide indoor and outdoor activities that enhance and promote physical activity so that children can fully develop fundamental motor skills throughout their critical periods in their young life (Natale, et al., 2014). They also provide children with nutritional snacks (more in In Home childcare facilities) to benefit their health (Natale, et al., 2014).


Weaknesses of childcare facilities are that the child is away from their parents for long periods of time (Natale, et al., 2014). The children in In Home care facilities are less likely to be physically active because they have less outdoor space for activities, therefore most activities are indoor which causes a decrease in physical activity (Natale, et al., 2014). Furthermore, in In Home care facilities there is less limitation of the restrictions of television and video games (Natale, et al., 2014). Another weakness is that in Out of Home childcare facilities, nutrition is usually unhealthy. They give children food with high fats and high sugars that may be detrimental to their health as they grow and develop (Oakley, et al., 1995; Ball, et al., 2008).

Reference List

  1. Ball, S. C., Benjamin, S. E., & Ward, D. S. (2008). Dietary intakes in North Carolina child-care centers: Are children meeting current recommendations? Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(4), 718–721. doi:10. 1016/ j. jada. 2008. 01. 014.
  2. Bower, J. K., Hales, D. P., Tate, D. F., Rubin, D. A., Benjamin, S. E., & Ward, D. S. (2008). The childcare environment and children’s physical activity. American journal of preventive medicine, 34(1), 23-29. Retrieved from:
  3. Carson, L. M. (1994). Preschool physical education: Expanding the role of teacher preparation. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 65(6), 50-52.
  4. Cosco, N. G., Moore, R. C., & Smith, W. R. (2014). Childcare outdoor renovation as a built environment health promotion strategy: Evaluating the preventing obesity by design intervention. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(3), 27-32. Retrieved from:
  5. Davis, E., Eivers, A., & Thorpe, K. (2012). Is quality more important if you're quirky?: A review of the literature on differential susceptibility to childcare environments.
  6. Deal, T. B. (1993). The preschool mover: A comparison between naturally-occurring and program-directed physical activity patterns. Early Child Development and Care, 96, 65-80.
  7. Finn, K., Johannsen, N., & Specker, B. (2002). Factors associated with physical activity in preschool children. Journal of Pediatrics, 140, 81–85. doi:10. 1067/ mpd. 2002. 120693.
  8. Gale, C. R., O’Callaghan, F. J., Godfrey, K. M., Law, C. M., & Martyn, C. N. (2004). Critical periods of brain growth and cognitive function in children. Brain, 127(2), 321-329. Retrieved from:
  9. Gallahue, D. L., & Ozmun, J. C. (2006). Understanding motor development: Infants, children, adolescents, adults. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  10. Han, J. C., Lawlor, D. A., & Kimm, S. Y. (2010). Childhood obesity. The Lancet, 375(9727), 1737-1748. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60171-7
  11. Hensch, T. K. (2004). Critical period regulation. Annu. Rev. Neurosci., 27, 549-579. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144327
  12. Natale, R., Page, M., & Sanders, L. (2014). Nutrition and physical activity practices in childcare centers versus family childcare homes. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(5), 327-334. Retreived from:
  13. National Association for Sport and Physical Education (2002). Active start: A statement of physical activity guidelines for children birth to five years. Reston, VA: Author. Retrieved from:
  14. Oakley, C. B., Bomba, A. K., Knight, K. B., & Byrd, S. H. (1995). Evaluation of menus planned in Mississippi child-care centers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 95, 765–768.
  15. Sanders, S. W. (1992). Designing preschool movement programs. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
  16. Seefeldt, V. (1980). Developmental motor patterns: Implications for elementary school physical education. Psychology of motor behavior and sport, 314-323.
  17. Stewart, L. (2015). Childhood obesity. Medicine, 43(2), 108-111. doi:10.1016/j.mpmed.2014.11.014
  18. Taggart, A., & Keegan, L. (1997). Developing fundamental movement skills in outdoor settings: Three case studies of children playing. ACHPER Healthy Lifestyles Journal, 158, 11-17.
  19. Temple, V. & O'Connor, J. P. (2005). Constraints and facilitators for physical activity in family day care. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 30(4), 1-9.
  20. Zehr, L., Duggan, M., Paterson, D. H., Warburton, D. E. R., Janssen, I., Rhodes, R. E., Tremblay, M. S. (2011). New Canadian physical activity guidelines. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 36(1), 36-46. doi:10.1139/H11-009. Retrieved from: