A program of Lutheran Social Services in western North Dakota and Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership in eastern North Dakota

Best Practices for Physical Activity & Nutrition in Child Care

At least 60 minutes of active play everyday

  • Provide children with at least 60 minutes of active play, games and movement activities during the day.
  • Provide adult-led physical activity to children two or more times per day.
  • Provide outdoor active play time year-round two or more times per day totaling at least 60 to 90 minutes.Reference the Child Care Weather Guide to adjust times based on temperatures.
  • Never withhold active play time from children who display challenging behavior.
  • Ensure that infant’s, toddler’s and preschooler’s movement is not restricted for more than 15 minutes at one time (seated position, swings, exersaucers, etc.). A least restrictive environment is encouraged at all times.
  • Rarely or never show television or videos, or use computers or video games (30 minutes per week for educational or physical activity purposes, none for children younger than two).

Create indoor and outdoor active play environments

  • Make a wide variety of fixed play equipment available that  accommodates the needs of all children.
  • Make a large variety of portable play equipment available for children to use at the same time.
  • Make outdoor play equipment freely available to all children at all times.
  • Outdoor play space should include open, grassy areas and an area for wheeled toys.
  • Make indoor play space available for all activities, including physical activity and movement.

Encourage physical activity by what you say and do

  • Join children in their active play.
  • Provide visible support for physical activity through the use of posters, pictures and displayed books.

Participate in physical education training opportunities

  • Participate, and ensure staff participates, in training opportunities on physical activity (above and beyond playground safety) two times per year or more.
  • Provide routine physical activity education to support the development of emerging motor skills (tummy time, crawling, walking backwards, running, skipping, jumping, etc.).
  • Offer physical activity education opportunities (flyer, newsletter, family fun event, community event, etc.) to parents two times per year or more.

Create and implement a physical activity policy for your program

  • Create a written physical activity policy that includes best practices listed above. Routinely follow the policy you create and make it available to staff and parents.

These recommendations support the goals of the Physical Activity in Child Care (PACC) Initiative to increase awareness and implementation of physical activity in child care settings. They are endorsed by the following North Dakota agencies and
childhood programs:
• The North Dakota Department of Health
• North Dakota Child Care Resource & Referral
• Dakota Medical Foundation
• North Dakota Head Start Association
• NDAEYC
• North Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
• Dakota Medical Foundation
• NDSU Extension