children with disabilities fail to form a complete body image due to exclusion
from physical activity. Similarly, because they do not necessarily perform the
same way other children do, they develop a distorted body image (Gallahue and
Cleland Donnelly 2003). Identifying and moving various body parts can “help
the child discover how each body part fits into the whole schema of a human
body. This enables the child to explore body boundaries and define his/her
body image” (Samuelson 1981, 53). Achieving regular success in movement
activities will contribute greatly to the child’s confidence—perhaps offering for
the first time an opportunity to feel good about himself or herself.
Another unique opportunity derived from the movement program is the
chance to be part of a group. As the child’s self-concept becomes more devel-
oped, he is better able to relate to others. As the child’s movements and ideas
are regularly accepted and valued, he receives greater acceptance from his
peers. Becoming part of a group—making contributions, taking turns, follow-
ing rules—has the additional benefit of enhancing social skills.
In today’s educational climate, meeting standards is a consideration for all edu-
cation professionals, including those in early childhood. Movement experiences
in general, and those in Toddlers specifically, can address multiple standards
outlined by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation
and Dance (AAHPERD) and the National Association for the Education of
Young Children (NAEYC).
For example, the position of AAHPERD in Active Start: A Statement of Phys-
ical Activity Guidelines for Children from Birth to Age 5 is that “all children from
birth to age 5 should engage daily in physical activity that promotes movement
skillfulness and foundations of health-related fitness” (AAHPERD 2009, iv). For
toddlers specifically, their guidelines include the following:
1. Toddlers should engage in a total of at least 30 minutes of struc-
tured physical activity each day.