Motor Competence Levels in Young Children: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Between Belgium and Greece

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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The targeted continent and/or country driven promotion of physical activity and health from an early age onwards requires more insight into cross-cultural differences in motor competence. Using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition Short Form (BOT-2 SF), this study assessed and compared both fine and gross motor skill performances of 5- and 6-year-old children from Belgium (n = 325) and Greece (n = 245). Linear mixed effect models and a χ2 test analyzed between-country differences in BOT-2 SF scores and the distribution across descriptive performance categories. Overall, Belgian and Greek participants displayed quite similar levels of motor competence, with fewer children performing (well-)below average than could be expected. On test item level, however, several significant differences emerged. Large effect sizes were found for knee push-ups (Hedges’ g = 1.46) and copying a square (Hedges’ g = 2.59), which demonstrated a better outcome for Belgian and Greek preschoolers, respectively. These findings might be attributed to different (physical) education practices in both European countries. The present study also highlights the importance of using an assessment tool covering the entire range of motor skills as well as a focusing primarily on raw performance scores, containing and explaining more variance, for international comparative research purposes.

D’Hondt is with the Motor Skills and Didactics Research Group, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. Venetsanou is with the School of Physical Education and Sport Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Dafni, Greece. Kambas is with the School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece. Lenoir is with the Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium. D’Hondt and Venetsanou share first authorship and have contributed equally to this manuscript.

D’Hondt (eva.dhondt@vub.be) is corresponding author.
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