A Review of Motor Skill Development in State-Level Early Learning Standards for Preschoolers in the United States

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Anne R. Lindsay Reno-Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA

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Courtney Coughenour School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, USA

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Layne Case Department of Physical Education, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

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Jacob Bevell Reno-Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA

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Victoria Fryer Reno-Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA

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Ali Brian Department of Physical Education, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

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The purpose of this study was to examine state-level early learning standards specific to physical development, including fundamental motor skills and gross motor development for preschool-aged children in the United States. All standards related to motor development and specific to children ages 3–5 years were extracted from publicly available online documents from all 50 states. Upon initial review, 961 standards were extracted from all documents. Through aggregation of similar skills and elimination of duplicates across states, 48 unique skills were identified. Frequencies and proportions of states that included each skill in their standards were calculated. Descriptive results indicate that none of the 48 skills were included as a standard across all 50 states. Only three skills, running, jumping, and throwing a ball overhand were a standard in over 75% of states. Most of the skills were standards in less than 50% of states. Trends from these data show that a wide range of motor skills are included within preschool physical development standards within the United States, with large variability among states. Considering this variability, and currently low levels of motor competence among young children, additional evaluation, and future creation of best practice preschool physical development standards are warranted.

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