4 Introduction area’ where children could engage in self-selected ‘reading play’ with a variety
of books” (2001, 9). Similarly, engaging in unplanned, self-selected physical
activities—or even a movement learning center—is not enough for young chil-
dren to gain movement skills.
Why does the development of motor skills matter, when not every child will
go on to become an athlete or a dancer? It matters because children who feel
confident in their movement skills are likely to continue moving throughout
their lives. And that’s significant because of the many health problems that can
be attributed to sedentary living.
Although children love to move—and adults tend to think of them as
constantly being in motion—children today are leading much more sedentary
lives than did their predecessors. According to Nielsen research, “Older kids
(ages 6–11) clock in more than 28 viewing hours per week, primarily watching
TV, but also spending close to 2.5 hours watching DVDs or playing video games,
with an additional hour dedicated to the DVR and 18 minutes set aside for
the VCR” (McDonough 2009). In fact, watching television is the predominant
sedentary behavior in children, second only to sleeping (Kaur et al. 2003). The
advent of computers and video games has also contributed to the decline in
activity. A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that children
ages eight to eighteen are spending more than seven and a half hours a day
with electronic devices (Lewin 2010)—the same number of hours some people
spend at full-time jobs.
Such statistics provide cause for concern regarding children’s fitness levels.
Studies indicate that 40 percent of five- to eight-year-olds show at least one
heart disease risk factor, including hypertension and obesity. The latter, which
is on the rise, particularly among children, has been linked to television view-
ing (Bar-Or et al. 1998). A Canadian study determined that the blood vessels of
obese children have a stiffness normally seen in much older adults who have car-
diovascular disease (Science Daily 2010). Furthermore, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that American children born in the
year 2000 face a one-in-three chance of developing type 2 diabetes, previously
known as adult-onset diabetes because it was rarely seen in children (2008).
A developmentally appropriate movement curriculum, such as Early
Elementary Children Moving & Learning, can give children the practice and