Getting children moving! Promoting physical activity in western Sydney kids

An essential part of a child’s growth and development is their ability to perform fundamental movement skills (FMS).

Physical activity has many benefits for children, including better bone and muscle development; emotional, mental and social well-being; improved learning, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Building children’s competence in FMS not only improves their confidence, but also increases their desire to participate in games, sports, and other recreational activities as they get older.

Between the ages of 3 and 5, children need opportunities to learn these fundamental skills, as these opportunities don’t occur without intervention or direction.

The skills include running, jumping, galloping, side sliding, leaping, skipping, hopping, catching, kicking, striking a ball; dribbling a ball; overarm and underarm throwing.

Early childhood educators are encouraged to provide daily opportunities to teach FMS as part of NSW Health’s Munch & Move program, which is supported by our Centre for Population Health’s Health Promotion team.  

Health Promotion Early Years Program Manager, Janelle McNicholas said research shows that children are more likely to improve their FMS when engaged in a learning experience that is stimulating and supportive.

“In a child’s early years, FMS is all about exposure to the skills, exploration, opportunity, guidance and most importantly – fun!” said Janelle.

In May and June, our Health Promotion team supported over 60 educators from 42 early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in western Sydney in ways to teach FMS through practical dance workshops.

The workshops provided opportunities for educators to learn practical ideas on how they can easily implement FMS into their educational program using dance.

Encourage children to express themselves by creating opportunities to include their favorite dance moves when planning FMS physical activity experiences.

Educators were encouraged to include a warm up session at the start of the FMS practical experience. “Warming up” reduces risk of injury and helps children prepare their muscles and brains for moving.

Following the workshops, 98% of participants said they had a better understanding of children’s physical activity needs and had learned how to perform the 13 FMS.

One participant said, “This was hands down the most fun and most informative experience I have had through training! I met so many wonderful women and absolutely loved stepping out of my comfort zone and learning so much all about FMS! Can’t wait to get back to the team and get them to have as much fun as we did with the dancing element! Honestly, I could say so many wonderful things about each of you, but I’ll keep it short. Amazing!!”. 

“I just wanted to say a big thank you to your team today. Myself and my team member … joined you for the Munch and Move workshop at Merrylands and it was highly engaging and most of all FUN! We definitely got a workout,”another participant said.

Want to learn more about teaching and practicing fundamental movement skills at home?

Visit the Western Sydney Healthy Kids website for short videos that show the key elements of each skill.