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.”

17 May 2019 | National
Cyber attacks on education down 26% News Image

Cyber attacks on Australia’s education sector have dropped to 18% (down 26% from 2017) which saw the sector leave the top spot of most targeted.
Read More

16 May 2019 | NSW
1000th PEF Scholar recognised News Image

Since the inception of Public Education Foundation’s (PEF) scholarships program 10 years ago, over 1000 students have been supported with scholarships.
Read More

16 May 2019 | National
Seek says it’s good to be an educator News Image

The latest SEEK Employment Report showed that it’s good to be an educator. Job ad growth in industries related to public service continues to outperform other sectors, this includes Education and Training. Read More

16 May 2019 | National and Qld
QELi and NESLI join forces to boost professional development opportunities News Image

Queensland Education Leadership Institute (QELI) and the National Excellence in School Leadership Institute (NESLI) have a new partnership to further strengthen educational leadership collaboration. Read More

16 May 2019 | VIC
Melbourne Girls’ School joins the fight against gynaecological cancer News Image

Ruyton Girls’ School made a step to address the problem of gynaecological cancers, which are all too common, inviting Dr Pearly Khaw from The Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG) to host an assembly. Read More