An examination of the physical literacy of 3-5 year old children attending childcare centres


In contemporary society, an increasing number of preschool aged children are attending childcare centres. While physical literacy is considered an integral part of childhood motor development, little research has been conducted examining the multi-facets of physical literacy in the childcare setting. Accordingly, the purpose of this research was to examine physical literacy (moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), motor skill competence, perceived competence) of preschool aged children in childcare. Methods: Thirty-two children (n = 18 m, 14 f; mean age 4.1± 0.6 y) were assessed. First, motor skill competence (Test of Gross Motor Development 2) and perceptions of competence (Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Acceptance for Young Children) were measured. Physical activity was then assessed (Actigraph wGT3X accelerometers) over a five-day period while in attendance at the childcare centre. Results: At the childcare centres, 13.7 ± 4.9% of the day was spent in MVPA. Locomotor competence was moderate, with 59.4% of participants performing movement skills at or above age anticipated standards. Children demonstrated high levels of perceived physical competence (mean score = 3.2/4.0 ± 0.6). Object control competence was low, with 87.5% of the children performing skills below age-anticipated standards. Discussion: The emergent foundations of physical literacy were seen in the children assessed, as evidenced by measured MVPA, locomotor skills, and perceived competence. However, object control performance was low. Object control skills are shown to be important for lifelong activity participation. Greater emphasis on object control acquisition is needed through enhanced training programs for early childhood educators.

Acknowledgments: E. Jean Buckler is supported through a CIHR Doctoral Research Award