Effects of a physical education program on the development of early literacy abilities in preschool children
- Authors: Bellafiore, M.; Battaglia, G.; Alesi, M.; Iovane, A.; Thomas, E.; Patti, A.; Bianco, A.; Palma, A.
- Publication year: 2016
- Type: Proceedings (TIPOLOGIA NON ATTIVA)
- OA Link: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/206018
Introduction Several studies showed a relationship between physical activity and cognition in school-aged children (Carson et al 2015). The aim of this study was to analyse whether the amount and frequency of a physical education (PE) program affected the early reading and writing skills in preschool children. Methods This study involved 189 children (age: 4.62 ± 0.97 years; height: 107.83 ± 7.82 cm, body weight: 19.84 ± 4.95 kg) of 8 Palermo kindergartens who were randomly divided in a control group (C, n= 29), a 1-intervention group (I-1, n= 120) and a 2-intervention group (I-2, n= 40). I-1 and I-2 children performed a PE program of 16-week length for 4 and 10 hours/week, respectively (total hours: 52 and 180, respectively), carried out by PE teachers; while C children do not perform any PE program. This program was planned in 21 learning modules aimed to develop the bodily schemes, basic motor skills, fine motor control, coordination abilities, autonomy, socialization, emotion and affectivity control. Before and after a PE program, early reading and writing skills were assessed with PRCR-2 test. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were performed to compare outcomes for I1, I2 and C groups at post-test and the covariate was the participants’ measure of cognitive skills at pre-test. Statistical significance was defined at p<0.05. Results I-1 and I-2 groups showed a significant decrease in the number of errors concerning the serial work skills from left to right, the visual analysis and memory compared with C group after a PE program. The ability to use the requested directionality significantly improves in I-1 children compared with I-2 and C groups following a PE program. Differently, the process of eye movements and the tracking speed significantly develops in I-2 group respect to I-1 and C. Discussion PE program positively affects the development of early literacy abilities in preschool children. The level of cognitive skills appears to be not dependent by the PE amount; however this is positively associated with that ability more complex and predictive of early literacy. Reference Carson V, Hunter S et al. (2016) Systematic review of physical activity and cognitive development in early childhood. J Sci Med Sport 19: 573-8