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Encouraging toddlers and pre-schoolers to move freely and play is important for building strength in muscles and bones. Play has an important effect on the development, learning, confidence, and well-being of young children.  

Types of play 

The best type of play for young children is unstructured, free play.  Free play is not planned and allows your child to use their imagination and move at their own pace. 

Some play should be guided by an adult to help your child learn specific skills, for example water-based activities like swimming.  

Spread out 3 hours of active play each day. Balance the rest of the day with calmer activities such as reading, singing, art, craft and sleep.  


Benefits of play 

As toddlers and pre-schoolers move more, they will get to know different parts of their body better. This helps them to test the limits of their abilities and improve balance and co-ordination. 

Playing outside can help your child feel more confident in different environments and around others.  

Different games can help progress these basic movement skills: 

  • Balance  

  • Locomotor - running, jumping hopping and galloping 

  • Controlling objects – 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 physical activity lessons at school as they grow older. Playing with others from a young age can teach your child social and emotional skills like teamwork, negotiation, patience and communication.  

Learn more about how play helps with development by watching this video (embed


Play Options 

Structured Play Opportunities 


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