Motor Skills and Participation in Middle Childhood: A Direct Path for Boys, a Mediated Path for Girls

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Beyond the often examined perceptions of competence and motor skill proficiency, perceived value and children’s expectations for success are thought to affect engagement in physical activities. We used parallel mediation models to examine the direct effect of motor skill proficiency on participation in physical activities, as well as whether children’s beliefs and value for physical activities mediated this relationship. Methods: The participants in this cross-sectional study were a total of 398 grade 3 children (201 girls) from 8 schools. Motor skills were assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2, the Value Expectancy Questionnaire measured the psychological variables, and the Children’s Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment measured physical activities. Results: Motor skill proficiency predicted all 3 psychological constructs for the boys and the girls, and boys’ participation in physical activities. However, the psychological variables did not mediate the relationship between motor skills and participation among the boys. For the girls, task value mediated the relationship between motor skills and physical activity participation. Conclusion: It is possible that the girls are further along in their ability to reflect on their competence, successes, and failures; it is also possible that the lower motor skill levels of girls had a deleterious effect on their feelings about participating.

The authors are with the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.

Temple (vtemple@uvic.ca) is corresponding author.
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