Executive function skills play a critical role in school readiness for young children and can be improved through targeted intervention. However, children in preschool often experience deficits in multiple developmental domains. Thus, there is a need for integrated interventions that target multiple domains in concert. This study tested whether a proven gross motor skill intervention, Successful Kinesthetic Instruction for Preschoolers (SKIP), also improves preschoolers’ executive function. Participants were randomly assigned to either intervention (n = 50) or control (n = 57) conditions. Prior to intervention, executive function and gross motor skills were tested. Intervention occurred for 6 weeks with 30-min sessions twice weekly (dose = 360 min). At posttest, participants in the SKIP condition showed significantly better gross motor and executive function skills than control participants. Results are the first to document the effectiveness of the SKIP intervention in also improving children’s executive function.
Kelly Lynn Mulvey, Sally Taunton, Adam Pennell, and Ali Brian
Ali Brian, Adam Pennell, Ryan Sacko, and Michaela Schenkelburg
Most early childhood centers charge preschool teachers with delivering gross motor skill content and providing physical activity (PA) opportunities to children. Little is known regarding preschool teachers’ background and confidence and the extent to which centers meet the Active Start Guidelines (ASGs) for PA. Preschool teachers (N = 102) completed an exploratory survey and the Self-Perception Profile for Adults Athletic Competence subscale. Eighty-eight percent possessed no formal background in physical education (PE)/PA, while most teachers (77%) were not aware of the ASGs. Most participants (92%) reported that they do not provide daily, teacher-led PE/PA programming, and less than half (47%) provided at least 60 min of daily free play. Preschool teachers were found to have below average perceived motor competence. Recommendations are provided for preservice teacher training programs, policymakers, as well as professional development of in-service teachers.
Ali Brian, Sally Taunton, Chelsee Shortt, Adam Pennell, and Ryan Sacko
The purpose of this study was to examine differences in motor competence, perceived motor competence (PMC), body mass index, and physical activity (PA) and to assess factors that predict PA behaviors of preschool children with and without disabilities. A total of 59 children with (n = 28) and without (n = 31) disabilities participated in the study. Results revealed that children with disabilities had significantly greater amounts of PA than peers without disabilities. There were no significant differences for motor competence, PMC, and body mass index for children with or without a disability. Although age and body mass index were controlled, both disability and PMC significantly predicted PA. Future intervention studies should consider maintaining high levels of PMC, as it is a significant predictor of PA.
Ali Brian, Angela Starrett, Adam Pennell, Pamela Haibach-Beach, Emily Gilbert, Alexandra Stribing, Sally Taunton Miedema, and Lauren Lieberman
Youth with visual impairments are more likely to be overweight than peers without visual impairments and often struggle with their locomotor skills. Locomotor development can combat unhealthy body weight statuses by supporting physical activity behaviors. There are no longitudinal investigations concerning the locomotor skill and body mass index (BMI) developmental trajectories of youth with visual impairments. The purpose of this study was to examine the 3-year developmental trajectory of the locomotor skills and BMI of youth with visual impairments including differential effects of self-reported gender and degree of vision. Participants (N = 34, M age = 11.75 years, 47% female) showed severely delayed and arrested locomotor development with increases in BMI across 3 years regardless of self-reported gender or degree of vision. Participants failed to breech a proficiency barrier of motor competence to combat against increases in BMI across time. Additional longitudinal inquiries are needed.
Ali Brian, An De Meester, Aija Klavina, J. Megan Irwin, Sally Taunton, Adam Pennell, and Lauren J. Lieberman
Physical literacy refers to the confidence, competence, motivation, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities throughout the lifespan. Little is known regarding the physical literacy of children/adolescents with visual impairments (VIs). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine predictors of autonomous motivation in children/adolescents with VI (N = 41) from Latvia and the United States. A secondary aim was to explore differential effects of the country regarding all variables of interest. Methods: Within this preliminary investigation, levels of perceived motor competence, competence satisfaction, and autonomous motivation were captured in children/adolescents with VI located in Latvia and the United States. Results: Competence satisfaction and perceived motor competence significantly predicted autonomous motivation regardless of location. Significant differences regarding country occurred for competence satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Discussion/Conclusion: Implications for cultivating physical literacy for children/adolescents with VI involve strategies for physical educators focusing on fostering motivation.
Ali Brian, Laura Bostick, Angela Starrett, Aija Klavina, Sally Taunton Miedema, Adam Pennell, Alex Stribing, Emily Gilbert, and Lauren J. Lieberman
Children with visual impairments often exhibit difficulties with locomotor skills (e.g., the ability to move one’s body from one place to another), warranting the need for ecologically valid interventions with conditions that attempt to match the real world in a variety of settings. Parents and physical education teachers are the ones choosing to provide movement opportunities for children with visual impairments and must be included in any ecologically valid intervention strategy. This was a descriptive-analytic study. To support the greatest diversity in settings, the authors recruited 94 participants (blind = 44 and low vision = 50; M age = 13.01 years, SD = 3.26) from schools for the deaf and blind in the United States (teacher led, n = 17) or Latvia (teacher led, n = 57), through an online LISTSERV throughout the United States (parent led, n = 10), and a control subgroup (n = 10). At the pretest, no participant’s motor development met age expectations. Children with visual impairments from multiple locations and cultures significantly improved compared with controls who did not. Results were most favorable when the physical educator was the interventionist. However, further research is needed to replicate these findings.