Printer Friendly

The impact of free-choice motor activities on children's balance control.


Human balance control is the capacity to maintain one's equilibrium when moving or standing in a certain position, and it is necessary in every activity being performed on a base that is narrower than the base on which the person usually moves as part of daily activities (Eckert, 1979; Pollock, Durward, Rowe & Paul, 2000).

Control of balance lies at the foundation of children's fundamental motor skills, and is also necessary when children learn new motor skills (Austad & van der Meer, 2007). In addition, balance control is the basis of the ability to focus attention on learning (Blythe, 2000) and can be either static or dynamic. Static balance involves the length of time the individual succeeds in stabilising his/ her body trunk in a way that enables one to focus his/her eyes (Rogers, Wardman, Lord & Fitzpatrick, 2001; Slijper & Latash, 2000). This activity depends on the control of sensory feedback based on a closed-circuit system in which pressure at the centre of the foot is continuously on the centre of the body mass (Winter, Patla, Prince, Ishac & Gielo-Perczak, 1998).

Dynamic balance, on the other hand, is a fundamental component of most complex tasks, mainly including coordination, which involves maintaining one's body equilibrium during the progression of various movements, thus enabling stability and reflection--during the performance of complex tasks, the body has to constantly react to changes occurring in this progression (Hatzitaki, Zlsi, Kollias & Kioumourtzoglou, 2002). Dynamic balance comes into play whenever one performs an action in which contact with the ground is temporarily suspended, such as running and jumping (locomotor skills), since in the transition stage, when the person performing the action shifts from one base to another, he/she has either partial or no contact with the ground. Balance has to be maintained both off the ground in order to return to the base and on the ground when stabilising the landing.

When the performed movement includes lifting the body off the ground and at the same time performing an additional action, such as clapping one's hands or turning the body while hopping, the movement becomes more complex. Not only is the body required to perform an additional movement that raises the level of difficulty of coordination of the body's dynamic balance, but this additional movement requires the performer to have enough muscle strength for reaching height and to have the ability to plan in advance both the amount of strength needed to execute the hop and the timing of the movement as the body reaches the peak of its trajectory (Assaiante, 1998; Kohen-Raz, 1986). Therefore, it is likely to occur later in the development scale.

There are two reasons for examining the effect of free-choice motor activities in kindergarten children. The first reason is that children spend a large part of the day in the kindergarten (Venetsanou & Kambas, 2010), where they have a physical environment in which they can choose the activities for their learning (Berris & Miller, 2011) and where much of their daily physical activity takes place. The second reason is that, at ages four to six, children have the most significant potential for developing their balance control, provided they are given the conditions in which to practice balance maintenance (Chow & Louie, 2013; Rival, Ceyte & Olivier, 2005; Shala & Bahtiri, 2011). In many cases, motor activity time in kindergarten is the only regular physical activity a child performs throughout the day (Pate, Pfeiffer, Trost, Ziegler & Dowda, 2004).

Typically, motor activity in kindergarten takes place either outdoors in defined areas equipped with playing facilities, or indoors with various apparatuses the child uses as part of elective activities done in learning centres (Giagazoglou et al., 2011; Mikkelsen, 2011). Moreover, teachers are responsible for organising the environment in a way that keeps the children busy in various activities and for ensuring that the atmosphere and the conditions in which the children play will encourage them to become involved (Martin, Rudisill & Hastie, 2009).

This study examines the following types of motor activity as observed while the children choose to perform outdoor and indoor activities (Goldhirsch, Wagner & Vinocor, 2002): social activity compared with individual activity (Larkin, 2009; Whitebread, Bingham, Grau, Pino Pasternak & Sangster, 2007); activity in large facilities and with small equipment (Gubbels, Van Kann & Jansen, 2012); and non-motor activity such as socio-dramatic games in the sand box, and in house-like and car-like structures (Fuligni, Howes, Huang, Hong & Lara-Cinisomo, 2012). Additionally, sometimes children do not move about during free-choice activity time, but instead observe other children who are doing so (Benham-Deal, 2005).

Studies investigating the impact of planned activity programs on the various motor components of the body have pointed out the advantages of such programs as compared to free-choice motor activity (Alhassan et al., 2012; Goodway, Crowe & Ward, 2003; Riethmuller, Jones & Okely, 2009; Wang, 2004). However, in spite of the advantages, these programs have two limitations: (1) in order to teach planned activity programs for the long term, professional training is required, which most kindergarten teachers do not receive--the programs also require professionalism in teaching physical education, which kindergarten teachers usually do not have (Tucker, 2008); (2) the infrequency of such lessons--they are only given once or twice a week and therefore cannot be a good substitute for the free-choice, daily physical activity performed by children according to their individual needs (Hannon & Brown, 2008).

There do not seem to be any studies that have examined the effects of various types of free-choice motor activity on balance control or on the mastery of fundamental motor skills. Indirect data obtained shows that when an educator in kindergarten intervenes, children's initiated activity decreases (Brown et al., 2009; Jones et al., 2011; Whitebread et al., 2007), while social activity with peers is one of the conditions for creating more intensive, and a greater amount of, motor activity (Dowda, Pate, Trost, Almeida & Sirard, 2004; Kyhala, Reunamo & Ruismaki, 2012).

The current research attempted to answer two questions: (1) Does an environment that encourages children to exercise balance improve balance control?; (2) Which types of free-choice motor activity improve balance?


This research is a field study that was carried out in three public kindergartens, all of which shared a similar daily routine lasting 300 minutes. Of those, 90 minutes were dedicated to outdoor activities and 90 minutes were allocated to indoor activities in free-choice activity centres. The motor centre was one of six activity centres and the children could move freely from centre to centre at will, according to their choice. For the rest of the time, the daily routine was dedicated to teacher-directed small and whole-group activities, meals and transitions between activities.

Moreover, the three kindergartens were provided with a core of identical facilities. Outdoors, all three had a sand box, socio-dramatic facilities, climbing equipment, slides and horizontal bars of different heights. Indoors, they had small objects such as balls of different sizes, rings, loops, sand bags and a hit-the-target facility. Where they differed from each other was in the addition of balance facilities. Outdoors, these additional facilities included graded balance beams ranging from low-wide to high-narrow at an increasing level of difficulty. Moreover, rubber tyres in vertical and horizontal positions were placed on the ground, a frame for children to exercise their balance was placed in the sand box and progression lanes were marked on the ground in the socio-dramatic facilities. Indoors, these additional facilities included balance beams, pedals, a spring board, small balance platforms on wheels or on half a ball, crutches and a vestibular plate. Table 1 shows the division of the research groups.


The participants were 114 students from three kindergartens in three different semi-rural communities in a central district in Israel. One kindergarten contributed two groups to the sample, whereas the other two kindergartens contributed one group each. There was no statistically significant difference in the children's mean age (57-60 months) and gender distribution (36-42 per cent males) across the groups.


Dependent variables--Balance control This was tested with the 'Clinic Psycho-Motor Test'. The reported test validity of this test is 0.65, while its repeat reliability is 0.95 (Kohen-Raz & Hiriartborde, 1979). The test examines: (a) dynamic balance--walking on the balance beam forwards, backwards, right and left; (b) static balance--standing on the right foot, standing on the left foot and standing on the heels while touching the toes; and (c) complex balance control--jumping and turning 180 degrees and jumping up and clapping three times while the body is in the air. Since this study focused on improvement of balance control, the balance variables consisted of the difference between the pre- and post-balance tests.

Independent variable--Time spent in various types of free-choice motor activity (TOT)

This was measured by using an observation tool that addressed 10 different types of activities. The initial instrument in the motor skill observation was based on a booklet from the Israel Ministry of Education (Goldhirsch et al., 2002). The instrument was piloted in observations that were done by both researchers and teachers. Following the pilot, the final instrument represented three categories of indoor activities and seven categories of outdoor activities (see Table 2).

The indoor observation took place in the motor centre. The observers were asked to differentiate between the following social behaviours: (1) Individual activities--A child focused on a motor activity he/she performed with no interaction with other children; (2) Group-leading activities--A child performed the activity either with one or several partners; (3) Group being-led activities--A child did what others told him/her to do.

In the outdoor observation, the observers were able to differentiate between two social activities and five motor activities. In each observation period, the observers reported both motor and social types. For instance, a child using a swing alone was registered as doing both an individual activity and using a large piece of equipment. Activities of a social character were as follows: (1) Individual activities--defined as activities a child performed without having interaction with peers; (2) Group work--defined as an activity in which a child participated together with at least one partner. Activities of a motor character were: (1) Playing in large facilities--motor activity taking place in fixed facilities; (2) Playing in open spaces with and without small apparatuses--motor activity in open spaces where there were no facilities, with or without small portable objects that could be used for the duration of the activity; (3) Rest and conversation--children took a rest next to the facilities, accompanied by conversations with other children; (4) Non-motor activities--this refers to non-motor learning processes, such as games based on imagination, building and socio-dramatic play; (5) Out-of-task activity--anything that was not related to learning and occurred in the kindergarten outdoors, such as standing alone in a corner of the yard, or the display of violent behaviour. The stretches of time in which children left the outdoors and went indoors for any reason whatsoever were not included in the observations. During the study, the teachers observed each child four times, recording all the child's activities during the free-choice period. Time reported in this study is the average length of time in minutes per day.


A pre-test was administered in each of the kindergartens in the fourth week of the school year, following the period of adjustment to the kindergarten by the children, while the post-intervention test was administered in the thirtieth week of the school year. The entire intervention lasted 32 weeks, for five days a week. The kindergarten teachers strictly adhered to the daily schedule, observing the children as described above. The research was approved by the Israeli Ministry of Education's Chief Scientist Office, contingent on the use of direct observation only. Using video or tape recordings was not permitted.

Statistical analysis

Descriptive statistics and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to identify any dissimilarity across the sub-groups by the variables of interest (Tables 1 and 2). In addition, before the main analysis was carried out, we used 11 linear regression models (details not presented here) to identify whether TOT could be predicted by demographic variables (age, sex and kindergarten). Since we received 44 impacts (11 regressions and four independent variables in each regression), we applied Bonferroni's correction for alpha inflation to set up an acceptable significance level of p < 0.00114. The results indicated that age had a positive impact on three types of activities: the indoor average was [beta] = 0.45; the indoor group-leading activity average was [beta] = 0.39; and the outdoor average for playing in large facilities was [beta] = 0.33. We also found that in group KP, outdoor individual activity was greater than in the other kindergartens, with an average of [beta] = 0.33. No other statistically significant impacts on behaviour were found related to gender, age or kindergarten. These initial results were the basis for the main analysis, which included six two-block linear hierarchical regression models to predict each of the balance variables measured in the study (Table 3). The first block included the demographic variables (age, gender and kindergarten) to ensure that the impacts of those variables were held constant (or controlled) in the analysis. The second block included all 11 choices measured in the study using the stepwise method (Cody & Smith, 2006, p. 291). It should be noted that we also applied tests for co-linearity to ensure that the regression models were appropriate, particularly given the associations we found between age and some of the activities.

Limitations of the study

The main limitation of this study is the relatively small number of observations--four observations per child for the year-long study. Moreover, since videotaping was not allowed, the only information that could be obtained was about the duration of the observation, but not the quality of the activity.


The relative time spent in various types of free-choice motor activity

Before considering the questions concerning the connection between the different types of free motor activity and balance control--and since the children were given freedom to choose the activities in their given environment--it is interesting to see the relative time spent in various types of free-choice motor activity. Table 2 presents the following picture concerning indoor kindergarten activity.

Children in all the groups spent one-third of the 90 minutes allocated to total activity in the learning centres doing motor activities (33.4--KP; 33.21--KS; 33.33--KM). The difference between the learning centres was that two of them (KS and KP) focused on providing opportunities to practice balance control, while the third did not. This did not have an impact on the length of time the children spent in the motor learning centre. Of the total time the children spent in the motor activity centre, approximately a third was spent in individual activity and two-thirds in group work. In this, too, there was no difference between the kindergartens. The group work was divided into leading and being-led activities, and here there were differences between the kindergartens: whereas in the KM and KS kindergartens, in which there was an abundance of balance exercise facilities, the leading and being-led activities occurred with equal frequency, in the KP kindergarten, in which there were mainly small objects to play with--these two activities did not occur with equal frequency, it seems that there were only a few cases of children leading an activity and many instances of children being led. Regarding outdoor activity, Table 2 shows that the average length of time the children spent outdoors was very high, ranging between 75 to 88 minutes of the 90 minutes allocated to these centres (83--KP; 88--KS; 75--KM).

However, this also includes non-motor activity. From the social point of view, the majority of the time that the children spent in the kindergarten outdoors was devoted to social interaction situations and not to individual work. The KM kindergarten, in which most of the outdoor facilities were of the balance type, was markedly different from the others because of the low frequency of individual work (see Table 2). From the motor point of view, about half of the allotted time was spent In motor activity (use of large apparatuses, activity in open spaces with small objects). The KS kindergarten, where there were various facilities, was characterised by the length of time children devoted to conversation and rest. In the remaining activities, there was no difference in the division of the allotted time.

The environment which improves balance control

Table 3 shows a significant improvement in post-tests compared to pre-tests. Seemingly, there was a significant improvement in all the tests, except the jump-and-triple-clap one: the children in the KS and KP kindergartens did not improve. The KM kindergarten children improved significantly more than the others in general balance, dynamic and static balance, and in the jump-and-triple-clap tests.

The types of free-choice motor activity which improve balance

It can be observed in Table 4 that indoor individual activities had a positive impact on five out of the six balance variables measured in this study. Outdoor group activities positively contributed to improvement in total balance, dynamic balance and static balance. Outdoor activities with large facilities had a positive impact on only 180-degree jump-and-clap skills. It should be noted that no other activities observed in this study predicted significant improvement in balance control, with the exception of age, which was positively associated with improvement in complex balance control.


This study, like some others in this area, shows that children do not use all the time allotted to them for free motor activity (Dyment & Coleman, 2012; Fuligni et al., 2012), but intertwine it with other activities, including conversation, rest and socio-dramatic play. This can be explained by the perennial need of children to move about for short stretches of time and to rest in between activities, as well as by their right to choose an activity among all the options available (Trost, 2001). In addition, it must be taken into consideration (Burdette & Whitaker, 2005) that the environment in which motor activity occurs may provide them not only with stretches of physical activity, but also with the opportunity to learn by observing and imitating their peers or talking with their peers, enabling them to improve their understanding of motor activity (Ashford, Bennett & Davids, 2006).

The findings of this study suggest that it is advisable to spread out the opportunities for performing motor activity over a relatively long period of time in order to enable children to choose the length of time for their activities. The ideal length of time and environment for an activity is yet to be investigated (Wrotniak, Epstein, Dorn, Jones & Kondilis, 2006).

The results of this study show that all the children in the experimental kindergartens improved significantly during the year. This can be explained by the relatively long period of time--32 weeks--between the pre-intervention and the post-intervention tests; the children improved because they grew older (Kakebeeke, Caflisch, Locatelli, Rousson & Jenni, 2012) and also because in all three experimental kindergartens, the kindergarteners were offered a learning environment and enough time to encourage them to engage in physical activity. The children in the KM kindergarten, in which there were many balance facilities both indoors and outdoors, improved their balance significantly more than the children in the other two kindergartens. This means that balance can be improved by practice and that this practice does not necessarily require direct instruction. It is enough to have a well-equipped balance-fostering environment to improve this capability.

This study adds support to the theory suggesting that a connection exists between the environment and a child's motor ability (de Barros, Fragoso, de Oliveira, Cabral Filho & de Castro, 2003; Raudsepp & Pall, 2006). Nonetheless, it does not provide clear guidelines about the optimal level of balance that can be reached in early childhood through freely chosen activity.

The main findings concerning the associations between the types of motor activity and improvement of balance control are also influenced by the social sphere. On the one hand, it was found that individual activity in kindergarten is related to balance control, but on the other hand it was found that group activity outdoors influenced balance control as well. This can be explained by the differences in the nature of the environments. Indoors, motor activity occurs as part of learning in learning centres. The time the children spent there was perceived as learning time (Vitiello, Booren, Downer & Williford, 2012). The area allotted to the movement centre was relatively small, as space had to be shared with the rest of the learning centres. The equipment was largely designed for individual activities, such as playing with the spring board, pedals or small balance platforms. Most social processes there involved coordinating the duration of play-time each child got with a specific object, or coordinating the exchange of objects among the children, but there was very little social communication involving learning while the activity took place (Butler, 2008). It should be noted that verbal communication in limited and crowded quarters causes constant noise. It can be assumed that the noise has a double effect: first, it makes it difficult for children to communicate for prolonged periods of time or about matters of content, and secondly, noise acts as a negative stimulus interfering with a child's ability to maintain balance control (Sheykholeslami, Kaga, Murofushi & Hughes, 2000). Finally, children practise their balance control when they are influenced by a number of external stimuli (Zachopoulou, Tsapakidou & Derri, 2004), and in this study it was demonstrated that the teachers structured those environmental stimuli to support the acquisition of balance control.

Outdoors, motor activity had a different impact on balance. This was the time for pleasure and relaxation in relatively large, open spaces (Yilmaz & Bulut, 2007). Children practised balance control in large facilities, such as ones made of bars, rows of tyres arranged close to each other, or various kinds of climbing structures. These facilities enabled a large number of children to play simultaneously using the same facility, to coordinate their activities and communicate verbally as they played, and to learn from one another (Karbach, Kray & Hommel, 2011; Wood & Attfield, 2005).

To conclude, creating an environment for four- to six-year-old children to enhance particular activities and give them a free choice to experience balance activity is likely to improve their balance control. Although this study examined only the connection between the environment and balance control, it points to the possibility that children are capable of adapting various types of free-choice motor activity in order to progress in their motor learning.

Further research is needed to identify the particular conditions and activities that improve children's motor abilities, as well as to identify the optimal activity time required for such improvement.

Ella Shoval

Ester Zaretzky

Givat Washington

College of Education

Tal Sharir

The Ministry of Education Israel

Boaz Shulruf

University of New South Wales


Alhassan, S., Nwaokelemeh, O., Ghazarian, M., Roberts, J., Mendoza, A., & Shitole, S. (2012). Effects of locomotor skill program on minority preschoolers' physical activity levels. Pediatric Exercise Science, 24, 435-449.

Ashford, D., Bennett, S. J., & Davids, K. (2006). Observational modeling effects for movement dynamics and movement outcome measures across differing task constraints: A meta-analysis. Journal of Motor Behavior, 38(3), 185-205.

Assaiante, C. (1998). Development of locomotor balance control in healthy children. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 22(4), 527-532.

Austad, H., & van der Meer, A. L. (2007). Prospective dynamic balance control in healthy children and adults. Experimental Brain Research, 181(2), 289-295. doi: 10.1007/s00221-007-0932-1

Benham-Deal, T. (2005). Preschool children's accumulated and sustained physical activity. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 100(2), 443-450.

Berris, R., & Miller, E. (2011). How design of the physical environment impacts early learning: Educators and parents perspectives. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 36(4), 102-110.

Blythe, S. G. (2000). Early learning in the balance: Priming the first ABC. Support for Learning, 15(4), 154-158.

Brown, W. H., Pfeiffer, K. A., McIver, K. L., Dowda, M., Addy, C. L., & Pate, R. R. (2009). Social and environmental factors associated with preschoolers' nonsedentary physical activity. Child Development, 80(1), 45-58.

Burdette, H. L., & Whitaker, R. C. (2005). Resurrecting free play in young children: Looking beyond fitness and fatness to attention, affiliation, and affect. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 159(1), 46-50.

Butler, C. W. (2008). Talk and social interaction in the playground. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

Chow, B. C., & Louie, L. H. (2013). Difference in children's gross motor skills between two types of preschools. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 116(1), 253-261.

Cody, R., & Smith, J. (2006). Applied statistics and the SAS programming language. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

de Barros, K. M. F, Fragoso, A. G. C., de Oliveira, A. L. B., Cabral Filho, J. E., & de Castro, R. M. (2003). Do environmental influences alter motor abilities acquisition? A comparison among children

from day-care centers and private schools. Arquivos de Neuropsiquiatria, 61(2A), 170-175.

Dowda, M., Pate, R. R., Trost, S. G., Almeida, M. J. C., & Sirard, J. R. (2004). Influences of preschool policies and practices on children's physical activity. Journal of Community Health, 29(3), 183-196.

Dyment, J., & Coleman, B. (2012). The intersection of physical activity opportunities and the role of early childhood educators during outdoor play: Perceptions and reality. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(1), 90-98.

Eckert, H. M. (1979). Balance and stability. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 49(1), 149-150.

Fuligni, A. S., Howes, C., Huang, Y, Hong, S. S., & Lara-Cinisomo, S. (2012). Activity settings and daily routines in preschool classrooms: Diverse experiences in early learning settings for low-income children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(2), 198-209.

Giagazoglou, P, Kabitsis, N., Kokaridas, D., Zaragas, C., Katartzi, E., & Kabitsis, C. (2011). The movement assessment battery in Greek preschoolers: The impact of age, gender, birth order, and physical activity on motor outcome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32(6), 2577-2582.

Goldhirsch, A., Wagner, A., & Vinocor, M. (2002). Observations in kindergarten. Ministry of Education, Pedagogical Administration, the Department for Pre-Elementary Education, Israel (Hebrew).

Goodway, J. D., Crowe, H., & Ward, P. (2003). Effects of motor skill instruction of fundamental motor skill development. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 20(3), 298-314.

Gubbels, J. S., Van Kann, D. H., & Jansen, M. W. (2012). Play equipment, physical activity opportunities, and children's activity levels at childcare. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012(2012), 1-8.

Hannon, J. C., & Brown, B. B. (2008). Increasing preschoolers' physical activity intensities: An activity-friendly preschool playground intervention. Preventive Medicine, 46(6), 532-536.

Hatzitaki, V., Zlsi, V., Kollias, I., & Kioumourtzoglou, E. (2002). Perceptual-motor contributions to static and dynamic balance control in children. Journal of Motor Behavior, 34(2), 161-170.

Jones, R. A., Riethmuller, A., Hesketh, K., Trezise, J., Batterham, M., & Okely, A. D. (2011). Promoting fundamental movement skill development and physical activity in early childhood settings: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Exercise Science, 23(4), 600-615.

Kakebeeke, T., Caflisch, J., Locatelli, I., Rousson, V., & Jenni, O. (2012). Improvement in gross motor performance between 3 and 5 years of age. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 114(3), 795-806.

Karbach, J., Kray, J., & Hommel, B. (2011). Action-effect learning in early childhood: Does language matter? Psychological Research, 75(4), 334-340.

Kohen-Raz, R. (1986). Learning disabilities and postural control. Tel Aviv, Israel: Freund Publishing House.

Kohen-Raz, R., & Hiriartborde, E. (1979). Some observations on tetra-ataxiametric patterns of static balance and their relation to mental and scholastic achievements. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 48, 871-890.

Kyhala, A.-L., Reunamo, J., & Ruismaki, H. (2012). Physical activity and learning environment qualities in Finnish day care. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, 45, 247-256.

Larkin, S. (2009). Socially mediated metacognition and learning to write. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 4(3), 149-159.

Martin, E. H., Rudisill, M. E., & Hastie, P. A. (2009). Motivational climate and fundamental motor skill performance in a naturalistic physical education setting. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 14(3), 227-240.

Mikkelsen, B. E. (2011). Associations between pedagogues' attitudes, praxis and policy in relation to physical activity of children in kindergarten--results from a cross sectional study of health behaviour amongst Danish pre school children. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 6(S2), 12-15.

Pate, R. R., Pfeiffer, K. A., Trost, S. G., Ziegler, P, & Dowda, M. (2004). Physical activity among children attending preschools. Pediatrics, 114(5), 1258-1263.

Pollock, A. S., Durward, B. R., Rowe, P. J., & Paul, J. P. (2000). What is balance? Clinical Rehabilitation, 14(4), 402-406.

Raudsepp, L., & Pall, P. (2006). The relationship between fundamental motor skills and outside-school physical activity of elementary school children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 18(4), 426-435.

Riethmuller, A. M., Jones, R. A., & Okely, A. D. (2009). Efficacy of interventions to improve motor development in young children: A systematic review. Pediatrics, 124(4), e782-e792.

Rival, C., Ceyte, H., & Olivier, I. (2005). Developmental changes of static standing balance in children. Neuroscience Letters, 376(2), 133-136.

Rogers, M. W., Wardman, D. L., Lord, S. R., & Fitzpatrick, R. C. (2001). Passive tactile sensory input improves stability during standing. Experimental Brain Research, 136(4), 514-522.

Shala, M., & Bahtiri, A. (2011). Differences in gross motor achievements among children of four to five years of age in private and public institutions in Prishtine, Kosovo. Early Child Development and Care, 181(1), 55-61.

Sheykholeslami, K., Kaga, K., Murofushi, T., & Hughes, D. W. (2000). Vestibular function in auditory neuropathy. Acta OtoLaryngologica, 120(7), 849-854.

Slijper, H., & Latash, M. (2000). The effects of instability and additional hand support on anticipatory postural adjustments in leg, trunk, and arm muscles during standing. Experimental Brain Research, 135(1), 81-93.

Trost, S. G. (2001). Objective measurement of physical activity in youth: Current issues, future directions. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 29(1), 32-36.

Tucker, P. (2008). The physical activity levels of preschool-aged children: A systematic review. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(4), 547-558.

Venetsanou, F, & Kambas, A. (2010). Environmental factors affecting preschoolers' motor development. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(4), 319-327.

Vitiello, V. E., Booren, L. M., Downer, J. T., & Williford, A. P (2012). Variation in children's classroom engagement throughout a day in preschool: Relations to classroom and child factors. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(2), 210-220.

Wang, J. H.-T (2004). A study on gross motor skills of preschool children. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 19(1), 32-43.

Whitebread, D., Bingham, S., Grau, V., Pino Pasternak, D., & Sangster, C. (2007). Development of metacognition and self-regulated learning in young children: Role of collaborative and peer-assisted learning. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 6(3), 433-455.

Winter, D. A., Patla, A. E., Prince, F, Ishac, M., & Gielo-Perczak, K. (1998). Stiffness control of balance in quiet standing. Journal of Neurophysiology, 80(3), 1211-1221.

Wood, E., & Attfield, J. (2005). Play, learning and the early childhood curriculum (2nd edn). London, UK: Sage.

Wrotniak, B. H., Epstein, L. H., Dorn, J. M., Jones, K. E., & Kondilis, V. A. (2006). The relationship between motor proficiency and physical activity in children. Pediatrics, 118(6), e1758-e1765.

Yilmaz, S., & Bulut, Z. (2007). Analysis of user's characteristics of three different playgrounds in districts with different socioeconomical conditions. Building and Environment, 42(10), 34553460.

Zachopoulou, E., Tsapakidou, A., & Derri, V. (2004). The effects of a developmentally appropriate music and movement program on motor performance. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19(4), 631-642.
Table 1. The research groups

Balance         Balance         The
facilities:   facilities:   kindergarten
Outdoors        Indoors

+                  +             KM
-                  +             KS
+                  -             KP

Table 2. Descriptions and conclusions of the research variables

Variables             Group--N
                      KM = 60,     M      S.D            F
                      KS = 28,
                      KP = 26

Balance variables

Total balance T1         KM      68.77   36.40         1.91
                         KS      79.64   34.00
                         KP      61.19   32.81
Dynamics balance T1      KM      66.45   34.72         2.24
                         KS      76.18   32.45
                         KP      56.81   32.07
Static balance T1        KM      2.32    2.95         5.54 **
                         KS      3.46    2.67
                         KP      4.38    2.26
Jump 180 degrees T1      KM      1.97    1.34         3.98 *
                         KS      1.21    1.17
                         KP      1.88    0.77
Jump three claps T1      KM      0.18    0.62          1.98
                         KS      0.33    0.83
                         KP      0.00    0.00
Overall jumps T1         KM      2.15    1.54          1.80
                         KS      1.52    1.70
                         KP      1.88    0.77
Total balance T2         KM      99.90   15.24        4.60 **
                         KS      94.50   27.42
                         KP      84.27   27.96
Dynamics balance T2      KM      94.80   14.11       6.25 ***
                         KS      90.00   24.86
                         KP      77.88   26.57
Static balance T2        KM      5.10    2.61         3.20 **
                         KS      4.50    3.35
                         KP      6.38    2.62
Jump 180 degrees T2      KM      2.92    0.42         5.12 **
                         KS      2.43    1.07
                         KP      2.85    0.61
Jump three claps T2      KM      0.65    1.07         3.11 **
                         KS      0.36    0.91
                         KP      0.12    0.59
Overall jumps T2         KM      3.57    1.11         5.03 **
                         KS      2.79    1.55
                         KP      2.96    0.87

Activity variables

Average indoors          KM      32.33   13.39         0.06
                         KS      33.21   17.12
                         KP      33.46   18.26
Individual work          KM      11.42   5.90          0.95
  indoors                KS      9.11    7.70
                         KP      10.00   10.58
Group work, leading      KM      11.42   13.72         3.11
  indoors                KS      14.29   17.09          M *
                         KP      5.19    9.00         S * > P
Group work being         KM      10.83   10.62   5.03 P. ** > M > S
  lead indoors           KS      9.82    11.10
                         KP      18.27   11.91
Group work outdoors      KM      64.17   19.51         1.28
                         KS      67.50   16.64
                         KP      58.46   27.45
                         KM      11.17   9.49          9.68
Individual               KS      21.79   15.59         P. ***
  work outdoors          KP      25.77   24.44      > S ** > M
Out of task              KM      10.92   9.81          0.125
  outdoors               KS      10.71   8.25
                         KP      9.62    16.12
Non-motor outdoors       KM      30.25   12.09         2.26
                         KS      23.21   8.84
                         KP      24.04   28.43
Rest and                 KM      10.92   4.56          4.37
  conversation           KS      16.07   9.27         S ** >
  outdoors               KP      10.38   12.80         M > P
Large facilities         KM      21.75   7.53          2.39
  outdoors               KS      22.32   11.59
                         KP      15.19   23.94
Open space               KM      22.67   9.04          1.71
  and small              KS      17.50   8.55
  facilities             KP      23.85   24.34

*** P. < 0.001 ** P. < 0.01 * P. < 0.05

Table 3. Difference in balance variable between groups

Group   Balance tests      M       SD          95%            t
                                             of the

                                          Lower   Upper

KM      Total balance    32.10    32.36   23.73   40.46   7.68 ***
        T2 - Total
        balance T1

        Dynamics         29.25    30.62   21.33   37.16   7.39 ***
        balance T2 -
        balance T1

        Static balance    2.85     2.85    2.11    3.58   7.72 ***
        T2 - Static
        balance T1

        Jump 180          0.98      1.3    0.64    1.32   5.82 ***
        degrees T2 -
        Jump 180
        degrees T1

        Jump three       0.467     1.01    0.20    0.72   3.55 ***
        claps T2 -
        Jump three
        claps T1

        Total jumps T2    1.45     1.72    1.00    1.89   6.52 ***
        - Total jumps

KS      Total balance    14.85    15.47    8.85   20.85   5.00 ***
        T2 - Total
        balance T1

        Dynamics         13.82    15.58    7.77   19.86   4.69 ***
        balance T2 -
        balance T1

        Static balance    1.03     0.96    0.66    1.40   5.70 ***
        T2 - Static
        balance T1

        Jump 180          1.21     1.03    0.81    1.61   6.23 ***
        degrees T2 -
        Jump 180
        degrees T1

        Jump three        0.03     0.19   -0.03    0.11   1.00
        claps T2 -
        Jump three
        claps T1

        Total jumps T2    1.25     1.04    0.84    1.65   6.35 ***
        - Total jumps

KP      Total balance    23.07    17.86   15.86   30.29   6.58 ***
        T2 - Total
        balance T1

        Dynamics         21.07    17.83   13.87   28.28   6.02 ***
        balance T2 -
        balance T1

        Static balance    2.00     1.29    1.47    2.52   7.86 ***
        T2 - Static
        balance T1

        Jump 180          0.96     0.72    0.67    1.25   6.80 ***
        degrees T2 -
        Jump 180
        degrees T1

        Jump three        0.11     0.58   -0.12    0.35   1.00
        claps T2 -
        Jump three
        claps T1

        Total jumps T2    1.07     0.93    0.69    1.45   5.87 ***
        - Total jumps

*** P. < 0.001; T1: tests at the beginning of the year; T2: tests
at the end of the year

Table 4. Linear regressions models of factors predicting improvement
in motor skills

Dependent    Independent       R2       Unstandardised   Standard.
variable     variable      (Adjusted)     Coefficient      Error


Difference   (Constant)         0.218            8.013      14.255
in total
balance      Age              (0.187)           -0.019       0.234

             Gender                              3.913       3.549

             KS                                -15.069       4.987

             KP                                 -5.843       5.050

             Indoors:                            0.924       0.238

             Outdoors:                           0.179       0.060

Difference   (Constant)         0.204            8.752      13.679
in dynamic
balance      Age              (0.172)           -0.046       0.225

             Gender                              3.957       3.405

             KS                                -13.325       4.786

             KP                                 -5.297       4.846

             Indoors:                            0.881       0.229

             Outdoors:                           0.156       0.058

Difference   (Constant)         0.222           -0.740       1.254
in static
balance      Age              (0.192)            0.027       0.021

             Gender                             -0.044       0.312

             KS                                 -1.744       0.439

             KP                                 -0.547       0.444

             Outdoors:                           0.023       0.005

             Indoors:                            0.043       0.021

Difference   (Constant)         0.230            2.016       0.636
180-degree   Age              (0.195)           -0.030       0.011
             Gender                             -0.026       0.157

             KS                                  0.268       0.211

             KP                                  0.024       0.215

             Indoors:                            0.028       0.011

             Outdoors:                           0.013       0.006

             Outdoors:                           0.016       0.008

Difference   (Constant)         0.163           -1.286       0.553
in jumps
with three   Age              (0.124)            0.032       0.010
             Gender                              0.186       0.151

             KS                                 -0.399       0.176

             KP                                 -0.324       0.183

             Outdoors:                          -0.013       0.006

Difference   (Constant)         0.095            1.132       0.995
in overall
jumps        Age              (0.053)           -0.007       0.016

             Gender                              0.241       0.266

             KS                                 -0.054       0.323

             KP                                 -0.301       0.329

             Indoors:                            0.053       0.017

Dependent    Independent   Standardised     Sig
variable     variable       Coefficient


Difference   (Constant)                     0.575
in total
balance      Age                 -0.006     0.937

             Gender               0.079     0.272

             KS                  -0.236     0.003

             KP                  -0.089     0.249

             Indoors:             0.305   < 0.001

             Outdoors:            0.249     0.004

Difference   (Constant)                     0.523
in dynamic
balance      Age                 -0.015     0.838

             Gender               0.084     0.247

             KS                  -0.219     0.006

             KP                  -0.085     0.276

             Indoors:             0.306   < 0.001

             Outdoors:            0.228     0.008

Difference   (Constant)                     0.556
in static
balance      Age                  0.096     0.187

             Gender              -0.010     0.889

             KS                  -0.309   < 0.001

             KP                  -0.094     0.221

             Outdoors:            0.358   < 0.001

             Indoors:             0.161     0.042

Difference   (Constant)                     0.002
180-degree   Age                 -0.214     0.005
             Gender              -0.012     0.870

             KS                   0.096     0.207

             KP                   0.008     0.913

             Indoors:             0.216     0.010

             Outdoors:            0.186     0.022

             Outdoors:            0.162     0.045

Difference   (Constant)                     0.022
in jumps
with three   Age                  0.321     0.001
             Gender               0.112     0.221

             KS                  -0.209     0.026

             KP                  -0.168     0.079

             Outdoors:           -0.203     0.023

Difference   (Constant)                     0.258
in overall
jumps        Age                 -0.042     0.652

             Gender               0.083     0.369

             KS                  -0.016     0.868

             KP                  -0.089     0.363

             Indoors:             0.283     0.003

Dependent    Independent         95% CI        VIF
variable     variable

                             Low      Upper

Difference   (Constant)    -20.149   36.175
in total
balance      Age            -0.482    0.444   1.042

             Gender         -3.098   10.924   1.006

             KS            -24.922   -5.216   1.189

             KP            -15.820    4.133   1.150

             Indoors:        0.453    1.395   1.212

             Outdoors:       0.060    0.299   1.378

Difference   (Constant)    -18.271   35.776
in dynamic
balance      Age            -0.490    0.398   1.042

             Gender         -2.771   10.684   1.006

             KS            -22.779    -3.87   1.189

             KP            -14.870    4.277   1.150

             Indoors:        0.429    1.333   1.212

             Outdoors:       0.042    0.271   1.378

Difference   (Constant)     -3.218    1.738
in static
balance      Age            -0.013    0.068   1.042

             Gender         -0.661    0.573   1.006

             KS             -2.611   -0.877   1.189

             KP             -1.424    0.331   1.150

             Outdoors:       0.012    0.033   1.378

             Indoors:        0.002    0.084   1.212

Difference   (Constant)      0.759    3.273
180-degree   Age            -0.051   -0.009   1.111
             Gender         -0.336    0.284   1.045

             KS             -0.150    0.685   1.134

             KP             -0.401    0.448   1.105

             Indoors:        0.007    0.050   1.335

             Outdoors:       0.002    0.024   1.271

             Outdoors:           0    0.032   1.264

Difference   (Constant)     -2.381   -0.190
in jumps
with three   Age             0.013    0.051   1.175
             Gender         -0.114    0.487   1.075

             KS             -0.749   -0.049   1.103

             KP             -0.687    0.038   1.156

             Outdoors:      -0.025   -0.002   1.274

Difference   (Constant)     -0.841    3.104
in overall
jumps        Age            -0.040    0.025   1.042

             Gender         -0.288    0.769   1.009

             KS             -0.695    0.587   1.125

             KP             -0.953    0.352   1.135

             Indoors:        0.018    0.087   1.030
COPYRIGHT 2015 Early Childhood Australia Inc. (ECA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Shoval, Ella; Zaretzky, Ester; Sharir, Tal; Shulruf, Boaz
Publication:Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2015
Previous Article:The tensions between food choices and sustainable practices in early childhood centres.
Next Article:The sleeping elephant in the room: practices and policies regarding sleep/rest time in early childhood education and care.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters