An increasing number of children in Ballarat are developmentally vulnerable in the area of physical health and well-being, new data shows.
Community educational leaders have expressed their concerns at how this may be impacting our childrens' overall success at school.
Federation University has established two programs to improve young childrens' movement skills and introduce them to the benefits of physical activity.
The Fun Moves program targets children five to eight years old while the Kinder Fundamental Motor Skills aims to improve motor skills before children start primary school.
Accredited exercise scientist and motor learning expert Mandy Plumb said the programs were started in response to census data that showed the number of children in Ballarat experiencing development issues in the area of physical health and well-being was above the national average.
If you don't get in early and do some type of intervention for children who have movement problems they end up not being able to participate, they are the last kid to be picked for sport at school and they can be vulnerable to social exclusion.Mandy Plump, Federation University
Seventeen children are involved in the Fun Moves program that aims to teach coordination, control of movement and fitness. They are four weeks into the pilot 10 week program.
"Having core fundamental motor skills in place early on will help children to integrate better at school and in community sport," Ms Plumb said.
"If you don't get in early and do some type of intervention for children who have movement problems they end up not being able to participate, they are the last kid to be picked for sport at school and they can be vulnerable to social exclusion. That can impact them later in life."
The Australian Early Development Census released earlier this month shows more children in their first year of school in Ballarat are developmentally vulnerable in physical health and well-being than the Victorian and Australian average.
In Ballarat, 11.1 per cent of children in their first year of school are developmentally vulnerable in this domain, an increase from 8 per cent in 2015.
The physical health and well-being domain refers to children's physical readiness for the school day, physical independence and gross and fine motor skills.
Federation University exercise science students are working to improve this statistic as part of the Fun Moves program.
They assessed participating children in the first few weeks of sessions and created individually focused lesson plans to improve their fundamental motor skills, including running, jumping, hopping, throwing, catching and balance.
Similar skills are also the focus of the Kinder Fundamental Motor Skills program that ran for the first time as a pilot at the Federation University kindergarten last year.
Accredited exercise physiologist Megan Charity said she had seen participating children's confidence, skills and socialisation improve.
"If we can get our kids more active and less sedentary, we find that their confidence improves, they are more willing to try things, make mistakes and are more resilient as well," she said.