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Christina Duff, Johann Issartel, Wesley O’ Brien and Sarahjane Belton

The aim of this study was to quantify levels of physical activity (PA) and fundamental movement skills (FMS) of children aged 3 to 5 years in Irish preschool services during care hours, and investigate the relationship between these two variables. Data were collected from 141 children (50.3% boys, age M = 3.9 ± 0.5 years) across 9 preschool services. Measurements included PA via accelerometry, and proficiency in four FMS (run, vertical jump, throw and catch). The recommended guideline of 15 minutes of PA per hour (min PA/hour) was met by 35% of children (M = 13.6 min PA/hour). Significant differences in mean PA per hour were found by gender, with boys (14.2 min PA/hour) more active than girls (13.0 min PA/ hour), and age, with younger children (14.2 min PA/hour) more active than older (12.6 minutes PA/hour). Percentage of children proficient in the run was high (88.4%), but low across the other skills (4.9%–18.5%). Significant differences were identified by gender for vertical jump with girls scoring higher than boys. No significant relationship was found between FMS and total PA. Low levels of PA and FMS proficiency highlight need for intervention in early years settings to ensure children develop skills to participate in PA.

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Christina Duff, Johann Issartel, Wesley O’ Brien and Sarahjane Belton

The Kids Active program was developed with the aim of increasing physical activity (PA) and fundamental movement skill (FMS) levels of children in preschool services in Ireland through training educators to encourage active play opportunities. In this study, the impact of a six-week pilot program on educator confidence, as well as children’s PA levels and FMS proficiency, is evaluated. Educators’ (n = 32) confidence to teach PA was measured through questionnaire, while data (anthropometric data, PA via accelerometry, and proficiency in four FMS; run, vertical jump, overhand throw, and catch) were collected from 141 children in five intervention and four control services. Educators in the intervention group achieved significantly higher confidence scores at post-intervention testing in comparison to the control group. No significant differences between control and intervention groups were found for children’s PA across the three-hour period. Children in the intervention group significantly increased scores in the overhand throw. Small positive changes in educator confidence to teach PA and in children’s performance of the skill of overhand throw indicate potential effects of the Kids Active intervention that warrant further investigation of efficacy over longer periods of time.