Getting the fundamentals of movement: a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of motor skill interventions in children

Child Care Health Dev. 2012 May;38(3):305-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01307.x. Epub 2011 Sep 1.


The development of fundamental movement skills (FMS) is associated with positive health-related outcomes. Children do not develop FMS naturally through maturational processes. These skills need to be learned, practised and reinforced. The objective was to determine the effectiveness of motor skill interventions in children. The following databases were searched for relevant articles: Academic Search Premier, PsycArticles, PsycInfo, SportDiscus and ERIC. No date range was specified and each search was conducted to include all possible years of publication specific to each database. Key terms for the search included motor, skill, movement, intervention, programme or children. Searches were conducted using single and combined terms. Pertinent journals and article reference lists were also manually searched.

Inclusion criteria: (1) implementation of any type of motor skill intervention; (2) pre- and post-qualitative assessment of FMS; and (3) availability of means and standard deviations of motor performance. A significant positive effect of motor skill interventions on the improvement of FMS in children was found (d= 0.39, P < 0.001). Results indicate that object control (d= 0.41, P < 0.001) and locomotor skills (d= 0.45, P < 0.001) improved similarly from pre- to post-intervention. The overall effect size for control groups (i.e. free play) was not significant (d= 0.06, P= 0.33). A Pearson correlation indicated a non-significant (P= 0.296), negative correlation (r=-0.18) between effect size of pre- to post-improvement of FMS and the duration of the intervention (in minutes). Motor skill interventions are effective in improving FMS in children. Early childhood education centres should implement 'planned' movement programmes as a strategy to promote motor skill development in children.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Motor Activity
  • Motor Skills*
  • Movement
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Physical Education and Training / organization & administration
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*