Katherine E. Spring, Alexandra V. Carroll, Danielle D. Wadsworth. Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

BACKGROUND: Although fundamental motor skills (FMS) are considered the building blocks of movement and contribute to a child’s physical, cognitive, and social development, optimal interventions for promoting FMS in young children remain unclear. As young children learn and develop skills through play, an active play intervention is of particular interest. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an 8-week active play intervention on preschoolers’ FMS. METHODS: Two local preschools participated in the study. One school was randomly assigned to the intervention (n=25) and the other served as a comparison group (n=25). Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS-2) subscale scores was used to assess FMS in terms of stationary (SS), locomotion (LMS), object manipulation skills (OMS) and gross motor quartile (GMQ). FMS were assessed at baseline (week 0), post-intervention (week 8), and at follow-up (week 23). The 8-week intervention consisted of two daily teacher-guided play opportunities designed to provide children in the intervention group an additional 15 minutes inside and 15 minutes outside of active play per day. Teachers in the intervention group were provided a binder with active play activities and a small activity kit containing play equipment. RESULTS: A two-way mixed-ANOVA indicated that there was a significant interaction for GMQ from baseline to post-intervention (F(1,46) = 5.037, p = .030, ηp2=.099). Additionally, there were significant effects for time for SS(F(1,46) = 40.89, p < .001, ηp2=.471), LMS(F(1,46) = 18.994, p < .001, ηp2=.292), and OMS (F(1,46) = 33.736, p < .001, ηp2=.423) from baseline to post-intervention. A secondary two-way mixed ANOVA examined differences between groups at baseline, post-intervention, and follow-up. Results indicated no significant interactions, but there were significant effect for time for SS (F(1.627,60.204) = 45.577, p < .001, ηp2=.552), LMS (F(1.339,49.559) = 11.493, p < .001, ηp2=.237), OMS(F(2,74) = 24.257, p < .001, ηp2=.396), and GMQ (F(2,74) = 23.669, p < .001, ηp2=.390).CONCLUSION: Results of this study indicate that an 8-week teacher guided active play intervention improved FMS acutely; however teachers were unsuccessful at maintaining implementation at follow-up. The results highlight the need to develop preschool curriculum that incorporates active play designed to reinforce FMS instruction across the school year.

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