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In the primary school years your child will enjoy testing out her physical abilities. She’ll get a lot of self-esteem from new physical achievements too. Here are play ideas to encourage her to keep moving.
School-aged girl playing in pool watched by mum
 

Daily movement for school kids: why it’s important

Children need lots of movement and physical activity every day.

Movement is vital for health and wellbeing. It’s also an important part of how children learn and develop physical, social and thinking skills. And it’s a lot of fun for kids too!

There are adapted versions of sports like cricket, volleyball, Aussie Rules and tennis, which many kids like. But if your child doesn’t like sport, that’s OK. Physical activity can be skipping, walking, running, swimming – even helping with household chores and gardening. 

What to expect: school kids and movement

The more opportunities for physical activity and movement your child has, the more your child will be able to do.

Between the ages of five and eight years, your child will probably:

  • be able to ride a two-wheeler bike
  • like to climb and swim
  • be able to throw and catch a ball
  • start to enjoy organised games and team sports at around eight years.

Generally, boys are often drawn to activities where they can run fast or play confidently with a ball. Girls are more likely to enjoy swinging on bars, doing handstands or skipping.

At this age your child might want to try new activities such as skateboarding and rollerblading. Just make sure he’s wearing the right safety gear for bikes, skateboards and rollerblades, including a helmet, wrist pads and knee pads.

Play ideas to keep kids moving

Children enjoy shared family activities. Walking together to or from school is a great chance for physical activity and talking together.

Kicking a ball around in the local park, or putting on some music and dancing together, are examples of unstructured activities that you can enjoy with your child.

Screen time
A healthy family lifestyle includes limits on daily screen time, because children are generally physically inactive during screen time. Children aged 5-18 years should have no more than two hours of screen time a day.

Children who have lots of screen time are more likely to have a range of health and learning problems. Too much screen time and not enough physical activity can affect a child’s weight.

Too much screen time can also affect children’s overall wellbeing. For example, you might notice that your school-age child is cranky when she has spent a long time in front of a screen.

Your child is a unique individual with his own interests, skills, abilities and ways of learning. Along with his past experiences and opportunities, these things shape what he can do physically. If you have any concerns about your child’s physical development, talk with your child’s teacher or your GP.
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  • Last Updated 25-08-2014
  • Last Reviewed 26-05-2014
  • Australian Government Department of Health (2013). Make your move – sit less. Be active for life! Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines/$File/Brochures_PAG_Families.PDF.

    Australian Government Department of Health (2013). Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines fact sheet: Children (5-12 years). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines/$File/FS-Children-5-12-Years.PDF.

    Gunner, K.B., Atkinson, P.M., Nichols, J., & Eissa, M.A. (2005). Health promotion strategies to encourage physical activity in infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 19, 253-258.

    Pelligrini, A.D., & Smith, P.K. (1998). Physical activity play: The nature and function of a neglected aspect of play. Child Development, 69(3), 577-598.