Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


Programming in early childhood has become increasingly academic, with less consideration for whole-child development. This new emphasis has influenced not only pre-k programs, but also programs serving toddlers and infants. As a result of this focus on academic skills, children from birth to five years old are spending more time in sedentary, academically focused activities and less time in meaningful play and physical activity. Children are no longer afforded the time and opportunity to participate in the robust play activities that are one of the essential elements in whole-child development. This literature review focuses on research that advocates for physical activity opportunities for children. The research demonstrates the positive impact that physical activity has on brain development, executive function, overall well-being, and school readiness in the crucial development period of early childhood.