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How does physical education affect the development locomotor and object control skills in preschool children?

  • Autori: Bellafiore, M; Battaglia, G; Bianco, A; Thomas, E; Patti, A; Caramazza, G; Alesi, M; Palma, A
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2016
  • Tipologia: eedings
  • Parole Chiave: Preschool children, Physical education, Locomotor skills, Object control skills, Gross-motor development
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Introduction Unlike other European countries, in Italian kindergartens the physical education (PE) teacher is not including in the school organic personnel. This is frequently associated with lack of opportunities to perform PE by preschool children. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse whether the effects of a PE program on the development of locomotor and object control skills in preschool children would depend on the hour amount of intervention. 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), an intervention group 1 (I1, n= 120) and an intervention group 2 (I2, n= 40). I1 and I2 children performed a PE program of 16-week length for 4 and 10 hours/week respectively (total hours: 52 and 180), carried out by PE teachers, while C children do not perform any PE program. This program was planned in 21 learning sessions aimed to develop the body schemes, basic motor skills, fine motor control, coordination abilities, confidence and autonomy, socialization, emotion and affect control. Locomotor and object control skills were evaluated with the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGM), (Ulrich, 1985) before and after PE program. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were performed to compare outcomes for I1, I2 and Control groups at post-test and the covariate was the participants’ measure of motor skills at pre-test. Results I1 and I2 groups showed a significant increase in both locomotor and object control skills compared with C group after PE program. I2 ability level was significant higher than I1 group. The improvement in locomotion skills was bigger than object manipulation those. The two abilities combined provide a Quotient of Gross-Motor Ability that was in the average at baseline in all groups and became high in I1 and I2 after PE program. Discussion The improvement of locomotor and object control skills in both intervention groups indicates that PE program positively affects the motor development of preschool children. We suppose that this is dependent on the duration of the intervention given the higher level of improvement showed by the I2. The difference in the ability levels between locomotor and object control skills might be associated with the maturation of nervous system and sensory-perceptual and motor experiences of children. References Ulrich DA. Test of Gross Motor Development. Austin, TX, USA: PRO-ED; 1985