The Motor skills At Playtime intervention improves children's locomotor skills: A feasibility study

Child Care Health Dev. 2020 Jun 17. doi: 10.1111/cch.12793. Online ahead of print.


Background: Interventions are needed to teach fundamental motor skills (FMS) to preschoolers. There is a need to design more practical and effective interventions that can be successfully implemented by non-motor experts and fit within the existing gross motor opportunities such as outdoor free play at the preschool. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of a non-motor expert FMS intervention that was implemented during outdoor free play, Motor skills At Playtime (MAP).

Methods: Participants were preschoolers from two Head Start centres (N = 46; Mage = 4.7 ± 0.46 years; 41% boys) and were divided into a MAP (n = 30) or control (outdoor free play; n = 16) group. Children completed either a 1,350-min MAP intervention or control condition (outdoor free play) from January to April of 2018. FMS were assessed before and after each programme using both the Test of Gross Motor Development-3rd Edition and skill outcome measures (running speed, hopping speed, jump distance, throwing speed, kicking speed and catching percentage). Intervention implementation feasibility was measured through daily fidelity checks. Fidelity was evaluated as the percentage of intervention sessions that included all explicit intervention criteria. FMS data were analysed using linear mixed modelling. Models were fit with fixed effects of time and treatment, covariates of sex and height, and a random intercept for each individual.

Results: The non-motor expert was feasibly able to implement MAP with high fidelity (>93%). There was a significant treatment effect for MAP on process and product locomotor FMS (P < 0.05) and a trend for a treatment effect for MAP on total process FMS (P = 0.07).

Conclusion: Results support that MAP was successfully implemented by a non-motor expert and led to improvements in children's FMS, especially locomotor FMS.

Keywords: children; fidelity; intervention; motor skills; nonexpert.