Education Today Logo


Education Today Cover Browse Issue

Add play equipment so kids stay outdoors

News Image

The great thing about young children is that they’re easily entertained and while putting them in the backyard to play is a good way to get them out of your hair it’s also critical for their development.

Adding a piece of fixed play equipment helps to keep them outdoors for longer and meet the guidelines for the recommended amount of activity.

Federal Government guidelines say preschoolers should spend at least three hours a day being physically active, but UWA researchers say this is only achieved by a third of children. One in five Australian preschoolers are now considered overweight or obese.

Assoc Prof Hayley Christian, senior research fellow at The University of Western Australia’s School of Population and Global Health and Telethon Kids Institute, who has led research into the area said when not in childcare, children spent little more than an hour a day playing in their backyard.

“The main factor associated with increased playtime in the yard was the number of fixed play structures with each additional piece of equipment adding an average of five minutes to a child’s daily playtime,” she said.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to comprehensively measure outdoor play time in the home. The home yard is crucial for providing an opportunity for kids to be active, as they are so dependent on their parents and don’t have the independent mobility to get out and about on their own.”

The researchers clocked the time children spent playing outdoors against a number of factors, including backyard size, outdoor features (grassed or paved areas, trees, gardens), fixed play equipment (climbing structures, playhouses, sandpits, swings, trampolines) and portable play items (balls, flying discs, scooters, etc.).

“Backyard play is a much better option than screen time, considering all the health and developmental benefits children get by playing outdoors and being physically active,” Christian said.

“As parents we may not have time to take our kids to the park each day, but they don’t need to be in the house on a device. Why not allow them out in the yard and let them go?”

Christian said the findings had important implications for high-density housing policy.

“The inclusion of accessible child-friendly spaces and equipment in high-density developments is an important consideration because many homes have limited or no private outdoor space.”

20 Mar 2019 | International
Nice kids win in the end News Image

The lure of the bad kid is strong in the early years of high school but their charm fades and by Year 12 the nice kids win out with more friends of the opposite sex, general popularity and better wellbeing. Read More

20 Mar 2019 | National
Half a million dollars for more than 500 Aussie schools to grow enviro champions News Image

Some 538 Australian schools are set to receive up to $1000 each, around 500k in total, for environmental projects as the recipients of the first round of the Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants program. Read More

19 Mar 2019 | Jakarta
New British School Jakarta Principal introduces IB for Middle Years News Image

With over 50 nationalities represented British School Jakarta has a very international student group and a global perspective, the IB program is a good match.
Read More

19 Mar 2019
2019 SACE Art Show reveals plenty of new talent News Image

The 2019 SACE Art Show four-week exhibition at Light Square Gallery features paintings and drawings, sculptures, jewellery, costumes and multimedia works created by 129 Year 12 students. Read More

19 Mar 2019 | NSW
Vivid Sydney’s Vivid School introducing creative industry futures News Image

Vivid Sydney has launched its inaugural Vivid School giving High School students in Years 9-12 the opportunity to meet artists behind the event’s light installations and inform them about careers in creative industries. Read More