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How can I help promote physical activity in the early years?

Quick links:

  • Key messages for parents, grandparents and other care-givers
  • Nursery and Pre-School staff and childminders
  • GPs, midwives, health visitors, practice nurses and social workers
  • Service managers, commissioners and employers
  • Voluntary sector workers and managers

Key messages for parents, grandparents and other care-givers

Research shows that children with active parents are more active themselves. Being active together can be a fun way to spend time with each other too. Those who care for children can be encouraged to support recommended levels of physical activity through promotion of the following key messages:

  • Be active themselves and try to meet the recommended levels of physical activity for adults (external link) and allow their child to join in wherever possible.
  • Be aware of the recommended daily physical activity levels for children.
  • Limit screen time (television viewing, using games consoles or the internet) and other activities that involve sitting still.
  • Walk and use public transport with their child as much as possible.
  • For a wealth of fun, low-or no-cost play activities, plus expert tips and advice, they can consult their 'play@home baby' (birth to 12 months) and 'play@home toddler' (12 months to 3 years) books.
  • If they have not received the play@home books, ask them to contact their Health Visitor or check the local library.
  • If they are having difficulties or are worried about their child's growth and development, encourage them to seek help early - speak to their Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.

For information and details of support in your area, visit Parenting Across Scotland (external link) or call ParentLine Scotland on 0800 028 2233 Lots of tips, advice and suggestions for activities are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website.

 

 Training for all staff is availiable on Raising the Issue of Physical Activity

This e-module will help you to gain knowledge, develop an understanding, motivation and confidence to raise the issue of physical activity and understand the health enhancing benefits of being physically active.

 

 

Nursery and pre-school staff and childminders

  • Be aware of the recommended daily physical activity levels for children.
  • Incorporate a variety active play activities into all care sessions.
  • Minimise time spent sitting down and break up time spent sitting with more active sessions.
  • Encourage parents to use active travel - walking or cycling or either in combination with public transport - to bring their child to your facility.
  • Ensure that families have received their copies of 'play@home baby' and 'play@home toddler' books (local libraries also have copies).
  • Align at least some activities with those in the play@home baby and toddler books to help children and parents get the most from them.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.

For further advice on promoting physical activity, see the Physical Activity Health Alliance's learning note on Development of key themes for physical activity promotion (external link).

Please also see below for further resources.

GPs, midwives, health visitors, practice nurses and social workers

Healthcare and Social Workers are ideally placed to develop trusting, respectful communicative relationships with parents of the type research has shown they most value.

GPs, midwives, health visitors, practice nurses and social workers can help support physical activity the following ways:

  • Emphasise the benefits of physical activity in the early years and make parents aware of the recommended daily physical activity levels for children.
  • Encourage parents to be positive role models by being active themselves.
  • Provide information on recommended levels of physical activity for adults.
  • Help parents identify opportunities for physical activity locally and in their daily lives - for locally available resources, refer to Active Scotland (external link).
  • Keep language simple and avoid terms such as 'exercise' and 'physical activity’ in favour of 'fun' and 'active play'.
  • Emphasise the value of everyday activities like walking, running about outside and helping with household tasks, and for babies and infants unable to walk, tummy time and reaching and grasping for toys.
  • Ensure that families receive copies of 'play@home baby' and 'play@home toddler' books.
  • Due to phased roll-out of play@home, some families may not have been eligible to receive the play@home books - remind parents that local libraries have copies.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.
  • Refer onwards or encourage parents to seek further help early if developmental problems are suspected and be ready with details of supportive organisations and services.

Professionals should also:

For further advice on promoting physical activity, see the Physical Activity Health Alliance's learning note on Development of key themes for physical activity promotion (external link).

Please also see below for further resources.

Service managers, commissioners and employers

For advice on supporting employees to increase their physical activity levels, visit the Healthy Working Lives website (external link). You may also wish to consider enrolling your organisation in the Healthy Working Lives Award programme.

For further advice on promoting physical activity, see the Physical Activity Health Alliance's learning note on Development of key themes for physical activity promotion (external link).

Please also see below for further resources.

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Voluntary sector workers and managers

  • Emphasise the benefits of physical activity to all parents and carers in supporting physical health, healthy growth and development and developing friendships (both for parents and carers and their children).
  • Make parents and carers aware of recommended daily physical activity levels for children.
  • Provide opportunities for play by incorporating spaces and time for active play wherever possible.
  • Encourage physical activity among staff.
  • Encourage active travel to and from work for staff and for service users.
  • Provide information on recommended levels of physical activity for adults.
  • For advice on increasing physical activity level at work, visit the Healthy Working Lives website (external link).
  • Consider enrolling your organisation in the Healthy Working Lives Award programme.
  • Check that families have received copies of 'play@home baby' and 'play@home toddler' books.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.