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The Australian Government has developed the 24 Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years  to promote a  balance between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and time spent sleeping. This balance is important for health and wellbeing.


24hour movement guidelines


Allowing children to move freely and play is important for building strength in muscles and bones. It is not recommended to restrain children in high chairs, car seats or strollers for more than one hour. Sitting for long periods and screen time should also be avoided.

Some sedentary play activities, however, are also very Readingimportant  for your child, including:

  • Reading and storytelling
  • Singing
  • Building blocks
  • Drawing
  • Puzzles
  • Painting
  • Craft

Playing outside can help your child feel more confident around others and in different environments. Unstructured play is the best form of play for young children, because it allows them to use their imagination, try different things and move at their own pace. Play will allow your child to practice basic movement skills that they can build on to learn more complex skills as they grow. Using specific games can help progress these  basic skills:

  • Balance skills 
  • Locomotor skills  - Running, jumping hopping and galloping
  • Ball skills – catching throwing kicking underarm roll and striking

When children learn the basic skills well, it  gives them the confidence and ability to participate in more active play, team sports and PE lessons as they grow older.

Skill development by age

The rough guide below shows how children progress through their skill development. It is important to remember that children will learn these skills at a different pace.

Skill development by age infographic

As your child gets older they will get more creative and the way they play will change. Having some simple toys available will give your child a chance to be creative and develop some of the skills mentioned. 

  • Large light things like cardboard boxes, buckets or balls
  • Containers, pots and pans
  • Rope
  • Hoops
  • Tunnels
  • Chalk, playdough and other craft supplies
  • Balls
  • Frisbees
  • Simple puzzles

If you are worried about your child’s play talk to your GP or Child Health Nurse.

Play and child development videos

[Source: Department of Health 24hour Movement Guidelines; Raising Children Network; ACT Government – Good Habits for life]