TABLE 2

Example Quotes Supporting Key Themes Related to Physical Activity in Child Care

Time in Child Care is Only Opportunity for Outdoor Play
Long hours in care¶1: The new thing that we find is childhood obesity. A lot of children depend on us during the day because they get picked up so late. We provide the physical activity that they’re gonna get.
¶2: I think [physical activity is] very important because a lot of those kids are in daycare from morning ‘til late afternoon. They’re probably not getting much [physical activity].... I know a lot of our kids leave at 6:00. You’re talking 3 to 5 year olds, they’re going to go home, dinner, bath, and they’re not gonna have time for that outside play.
Parents work multiple jobs¶3: With the way that parents work these days, you got some parents that’s got 2 and 3 jobs sometimes and they don’t necessarily have the time to go over that kind of stuff with their kids. ’Cause I got some parents that work on weekends as well as all week long. So to me, it’s like we are that surrogate mom.... So I think we have to push gross motor a lot because a lot of them don’t know about it. But a lot of them don’t get outside. I have a little girl that tells me all the time she doesn’t really go outside. When they go home, it’s dinner, bath, sleep, and back to school again. They have to learn it somewhere.... Yeah, [the time in child care is] the only time she gets to go outside.
No other activities/no time for free play¶4: Usually the people I work with are lower income so they don’t have extra activities. They’re not., you know, the parents are dropping them off, they’re running to work, running to school, and then they come, kids go home and all they doing is watching TV, you know, basically getting ready for bed. So I think the physical part and the socialization part [of physical education] is very important for the kids that I work with.
No safe place to play¶5: Some kids don’t even get to go outside once they leave the center. They have to live inside because of the areas they live in or something. A lot of parents where we are so they’re scared to let their kids go out because of drive-bys and drug activities so their kids play inside a lot so they really enjoy the outside.
Physical activity not seen as a value¶6: They are just sitting inside at home. Going outside, getting activity, taking walks, going on bikes doesn’t seem to be a value of mom and dad. It’s really hard at school to make kids feel that this is good for you. It’s important. We should all do this. If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it at home.
Barriers to Children’s Physical Activity in Child Care
Injury/Safety concerns
 Child safety is main concern of parents and teachers¶7: I can think of one instance where a girl fell on the playground and I tried to help her up and she blamed me…. Her parents thought I made her fall. I am the one that told them to call her home.... So the climbers and the monkey bars are a lot of fun but they are also very dangerous.
¶8: Sometimes you have parents who are afraid to let their children do things because they’re afraid they’ll get hurt.
¶9: I had a parent, she said her daughter was just prone to getting hurt... Because she would always would fall, get a cut, her head hurt. Every week there was an incident. Mom said, “Tell her she needs to sit down.” I was like, “We can‘t do that.” She said, “She don’t need to play. Tell her to just sit down.” I said, “But we can’t tell her she can’t play.”
¶10: [Parent said:] “I don’t want him playing on the climber anymore because he got hurt.” “Well, so when we go outside we need to isolate him? What is it you want him to do?” ... She said, “I just don’t want him climbing so when you come out he needs to bring a book.”
 Playground licensing renders climbers unchallenging¶11: It seems like an awful lot of play equipment kind of limits them. Climbers these days are—you can climb up a ladder or you can climb up the wall or you can climb up the rope, and then you’re on a platform but there’s not as much to do.… It just seems like years ago there were more things that were perhaps more dangerous, but also more challenging. It’s like you can’t really ever be completely safe and push yourself to try to reach a new potential because you’re limited because you gotta be safe. Which is great, I want them to be safe! But at the same time, I feel sad that children don’t get to do as much as they used to be able to do.
¶12: I don’t think they really get their heart rate up much from climbing because with all the new licensing regulations, our climbing equipment isn’t that hard anymore.... Everything is so safety-oriented that there is not a place to really take a risk.
¶13: All the new equipment looks alike.… It’s real cool the first time you see it, and then you go to the next playground and there it is again. It’s all the same. It’s all very, very safe and it’s all exactly the same. Even if it’s in a different configuration, there are no new skills they can learn here.
¶14: I don’t know what the licensing regulations are but I know that we used to have this climber where they could climb really high and it was really challenging. Then they changed it to whatever it is now. I guess it had something to do with fall zones and everything. Now we have this climber that it looks cute, much cuter than the old one, but it’s not as high, and the old one was kind of scary.... This one there is just not a lot of—you see children trying to climb into places they’re not supposed to climb in because it’s just not challenging. They’re walking up the slide much more than they ever did with the other one. You can see they are just trying to find those challenges.
¶15: I think young kids are just wired to be learning something new. If they are in an environment that’s too familiar to them, they’re gonna figure out some way to do something new which usually does not work for [teachers].
¶16: Well, on our playground there are certain types of equipment that have stickers on them that say “For use of children 6 and under” and other equipment will say “For use of children 8-12.” So even though some of our kids are 6 and 7, might be able to do the activities on the larger equipment, they’re really not supposed to be on that because the sticker says they’re not supposed to and our school is supposed to abide by that. So it can limit some of the activities of the children who are able to do that.
 Center neighborhood safety¶17: Yes, I had a parent say she didn’t want her child outside because the neighborhood we’re in, you know. She lives in this neighborhood but she didn’t want her child out. Our center is in [an area that] has a very bad reputation. [The parent said], “I don’t want my child outside because I’m not there to watch my child and I don’t know, she may get shot.”
Economic concerns
 Playgrounds are expensive¶18: We have budget problems. We only got so much money. [The school doesn’t] have the money. That limits a lot of things we can do.
¶19: Not having enough equipment or enough activities to do. Depending on the center, what their budget allows them. Some centers may have one swing set or one climber. They might have 30 children and there is not enough stuff for everyone to do, so either kids get bored and they start doing things that aren’t appropriate or they just get bored and don’t do anything. Depends on the budget and the equipment they have.
¶20: I think one of [our problems] is not having enough bikes for all the kids.... Probably the same for the climber. We have a climber and a grass area and a little path. It’s just a small piece of a climber and so there is always a long line waiting to go up the slide and do stuff like that.
 Inadequate or nonexistent indoor gross motor room¶21: I don’t think that physical activity is high on the priority list of things that schools want to necessarily provide. We don’t have a strategic muscle room. We just kind of have a hallway that has become the muscle room. When we push for more funding for that or ask for a specific area where we can get that.... And the higher-ups are not interested in that. They want more books, more focus on the indoor activities and so the money, just the funding is not coming for it. And it’s very frustrating ’cause I feel that’s a very important part of their day, but I don’t think that everyone feels that way.
¶22: …they took our muscle room and changed it into a classroom! We have a classroom there now.
¶23: The muscle room isn’t really large enough or have enough equipment for 14 four-year-olds. It just really is inadequate. I hate the muscle room. If I can avoid it, I will.
¶24: Our muscle room is small. It’s for one class, One class [and too small for that]… if it’s a day where I have 20 kids, I don’t even go. I won’t even go in there.... When they ride bikes, they are just basically going circles around the climber.
Academic concerns
 Pressure to prioritize classroom learning over physical activity¶25: I think a lot of teachers know the importance of active play but I think a lot of parents are pushing for a lot of academics. Some schools have been juggling with the idea of eliminating recess which I think is just awful. As educators, we know how important it is but parents who are not in the education field don’t realize how important it is. [Teacher at a child care center affiliated with an middle-upper-income school district]
¶26: I think the parents that we deal with are more interested in what you’re teaching their child than they are in other things. They want your accountability of things. And luckily, with me only being 2s and 3s [year-olds], I tell them up front we do colors and shapes but I don’t drown it into their head or hold up the flash card. They learn it by reading a book and you say, “What color is this apple?” [Teacher from nursery school in an upper-income neighborhood]
¶27: I think you hit on a really key point when you said the parents want to know what you’re teaching them. Because even though I feel that the gross motor is something that’s important for the children to experience and engage in, I don’t think that their parents necessarily do. Like for example, the fact that they’re not getting it when they go home. -A parent whose child is not getting that when they’re at home doesn’t come to school and say, “You know, I’m wondering if my child got to ride the bike today.” They want to know what letters they know, what shapes they know, where they’re at with reading… and we have some 2-year-old parents who want to know if their child knows letters, which is not necessarily age appropriate, but their child can’t climb the stairs by themselves yet. So, I don’t think it’s an important thing to parents sometimes. [Teacher from a center serving an low-income neighborhood]
¶28: I think the State of Ohio is getting away from the gross motor part, too. They are focusing more for preschool on the language and the literacy. They have a new program called the Early Learning Initiative which is to standardize preschool across the state. And they do not consider gross motor or outdoor time or the muscle room time as learning time, so they want children to have 4-1/2 hours of structured learning time, but they’re not considering gross motor or fine motor as part of that time. So I think they’re getting away from that piece of it, and it concerns me a little bit.
 Activity needs purpose¶29: Sometimes kids spend more time outside and aren’t getting the other things they need out of preschool. If they are just outside running in circles and... not participating in interactive activities that teachers have planned to meet certain goals of the preschool… and the state and federal standards that we have to abide by all the time. That’s one downfall that we need to make sure that even when they’re outside, they’re participating in meaningful activities—that they’re learning something. There is learning going on, not just exerting energy.
¶30: I think it’s very important that they are learning skills and not just running around, although there are some children that need to burn off that energy, but they’re not learning how to do any of the things that they should at home, like the riding the bike or throwing the balls and overhand throwing. They’re not learning that at home ’cause there is no time for it.
 Incorporating learning into outdoor play¶31: Like hopscotch, where they are learning numbers, and taking turns, social skills, things like that. We are big on individualization in Head Start, so if there is a child who doesn’t know their numbers or one-on-one correspondence, they don’t know how to count… then the teachers need to be working on certain skills that will enhance those developmental skills of the child. If they draw a hopscotch outside, it’s for these handful of children that need to work on number concepts. They’re putting fun stuff out there, but it has a purpose behind it that they’re trying to work on.
 Activity helps children concentrate, active learning¶32: I had to do my thesis on Head Start and how they… said that the physical part was just as important. Because sometimes I can’t even get the kids to focus if you’re trying to do a circle or group or something, until we all got up and played or danced or did something and got all their energy out of them, and then they was ready to sit down and focus for the 15 minutes.
¶33: It’s just not natural for them to sit still. You lecture them at that age. They need to move. It’s not something they want to do, it’s a necessity. They need to get outside. They need to smell the fresh air. They learn better. I completely agree with you.
¶34: [Movement has] been tied to emotional development and physical development and cognitive development…. They learn through moving. If they aren’t able to move their bodies and explore and figure things out with their bodies, the rest of it isn’t gonna click, either. It’s just important for all-around development .