Background: Physical activity is critical for the healthy development and well-being of children. Specifically, physical activity is associated with improvements in coordination, balance, attention, and behavior among elementary school-aged children. However, for many children, particularly those belonging to minority groups, opportunities to engage in quality physical activity programs outside school settings are limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the whether a physical activity program called Minds in Motion (MiM) The Maze before school, as compared with yoga, meets the criteria of the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program framework as a before-school program to improve overall physical activity and academic performance among elementary school-age students. Methods: A total of 48 children attending an urban public school with large minority representation in the Midwest were randomly assigned to MiM-The Maze or yoga. Participants were assessed on motor proficiency, behavior, balance, and academic skills before and after training. Training consisted of either yoga or MiM-The Maze 30 minutes per day before school, 5 times per week for 12 weeks. Results: MiM-The Maze and yoga group students showed significant improvements in academic skills. Conclusions: MiM-The Maze is feasible and affordable before-school program to promote students’ classroom behavior in elementary school students.
Daniela G.L. Terson de Paleville and Jason C. Immekus
Jason C. Immekus, Franklin Muntis and Daniela Terson de Paleville
The associations between motor proficiency, postural control, and visual efficiency with teacher and parent ratings of children’s behavior and academic skills were examined among a sample of elementary school-aged children (N = 50). Teacher and parent ratings of students’ academic skills were analyzed separately to examine the predictive nature of measures of motor proficiency. Spearman rank order correlations reported low to moderate relationships between motor proficiency, postural control, and children’s behavior (e.g., ADHD inattention) and academic skills. The least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (lasso) procedure is demonstrated as an approach for variable selection of measures of children’s motor proficiency, postural control, and visual efficiency to predict academic skills. For teacher and parent ratings of academic skills, ADHD symptom of inattention was the strongest model predictor, whereas directional control (postural control) was also a predictor for parent ratings. Study findings shed light on practical and methodological factors associated with motor skills in educational contexts.