Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.1 Health Promotion in Child Care

3.1.3 Physical Activity and Limiting Screen Time Caregivers’/Teachers’ Encouragement of Physical Activity

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 05/29/2018.

Caregivers/teachers should promote children’s active play and participate in children’s active games at times when they can safely do so. Caregivers/teachers should

     a. Lead structured activities to promote children’s activities 2 or more times per day.

     b. Wear clothing and footwear that permits easy and safe movement (1). 

     c. Provide prompts for children to be active (2,3). (eg, “Good throw!”).

     d. Encourage children’s physical activities that are appropriate and safe in the setting (eg, do not prohibit running on the playground when it is safe to run).

     e.Have orientation and annual training opportunities to learn about age-appropriate gross motor activities and games that promote children’s physical activity (2,4).

     f. Not sit during active play.

     g. Limit screen time and other digital media as outlined in Standard

Caregivers/teachers should consider incorporating structured activities into the curriculum indoors or after children have been on the playground for 10 to 15 minutes. Caregivers/teachers should communicate with parents/guards about their use of screen time/digital media in the home.


Children learn from the adult modeling of healthy and safe behavior. Caregivers/teachers may not be comfortable promoting active play, perhaps due to inhibitions about their own physical activity skills or lack of training. Caregivers/teachers may also assume their sole role on the playground is to supervise and keep children safe, rather than to promote physical activity. Continuing education activities are useful in disseminating knowledge about effective games to promote physical activity in early care and education while keeping children safe (4).

Children exposed to less screen time/digital media in early care and education settings engage in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity compared with children who are exposed to more screen time (5).  This gives caregivers/teachers the opportunity to model the limitation of screen time/digital media use and to educate parents/guardians about alternative activities that families can do with their children (2). 

Additional Resource:

American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media. Media and young minds. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5):e20162591

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Screen Time/Digital Media Use Active Opportunities for Physical Activity Playing Outdoors Policies and Practices that Promote Physical Activity
Appendix S: Physical Activity: How Much Is Needed?
  1. Henderson KE, Grode GM, O’Connell ML, Schwartz MB. Environmental factors associated with physical activity in childcare centers. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015;12:43

  2. Tandon PS, Saelens BE, Copeland KA. A comparison of parent and childcare provider's attitudes and perceptions about preschoolers' physical activity and outdoor time. Child Care Health Dev. 2017;43(5):679–686

  3. Tandon PS, Walters KM, Igoe BM, Payne EC, Johnson DB. Physical activity practices, policies and environments in Washington state child care settings: results of a statewide survey. Matern Child Health J. 2017;21(3):571–582

  4. Copeland KA, Khoury JC, Kalkwarf HJ. Child care center characteristics associated with preschoolers’ physical activity. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(4):470–479

  5. Taverno Ross S, Dowda M, Saunders R, Pate R. Double dose: the cumulative effect of TV viewing at home and in preschool on children’s activity patterns and weight status. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2013;25(2):262–272


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 05/29/2018.