Parents' perceptions of Ontario's daily physical activity (dpa) policy

  • Tara McGoey Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University
  • Barbi Law School of Physical & Health Education, Nipissing University

Abstract

Research suggests 42 to 50% of elementary teachers adhere to Ontario's DPA policy (McGoey, 2016; Public Health Ontario, 2015). While parents are key partners in school policies (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2006) and play an influential role in their children's physical activity (PA) (Janssen, 2015); teachers identified a lack of parental engagement as a barrier to DPA implementation (McGoey, 2016). This study employed an online survey to explore parents' (n = 172) awareness of and beliefs about Ontario's DPA policy, their perceptions of the roles of school and family for children's PA, and to determine whether or not their frequency of support surrounding PA influence these outcomes. A PA index was calculated to reflect the relative contributions of home and school to children's overall PA. Despite poor awareness of the policy, parents perceived the school's role in PA promotion to be greater than the family's (Z = -2.662, p < .01), and 50% relied on schools for at least an equal contribution to their children's PA. Parents who supported an active lifestyle were more likely to believe that family plays an important role (Β = 3.39, p = .001), and less likely to rely on schools for their children's PA (L= .67, χ2 (16) = 47.84, p < .001, discriminant function coefficient = .60). Conversely, parents who reported more barriers to home-based PA were more likely to rely on schools for their children's PA (discriminant function coefficient = .47). Parent-focused strategies that increase awareness and engagement in school-based PA may enhance DPA implementation and children's PA levels.