Environmental characteristics of early care and education centers (ECECs) are an important context for preschool-aged children's development, but few studies have examined their relationship with children's locomotor skills. We examined the association between characteristics of the ECEC environment with quantitatively (i.e., product-based) and qualitatively (i.e., process-based) measured locomotor skills, using the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) and the locomotor portion of the Children's Activity and Movement in Preschool Study (CHAMPS) motor skills protocol (CMSP), respectively. ECEC characteristics included outdoor and indoor play environment quality, outdoor and indoor play equipment, screen-time environment quality, and policy environment quality. Mean (SD) scores for the PACER (n = 142) and CSMP (n = 91) were 3.7 ± 2.3 laps and 19.0 ± 5.5 criteria, respectively, which were moderately correlated with each other (Pearson r = 0.5; p < 0.001). Linear regression models revelated that a better policy environment score was associated with fewer PACER laps. Better outdoor play and screen-time environment quality scores and more outdoor play equipment were positively associated with higher CMSP scores. ECEC environments that reflect best practice guidelines may be opportunities for locomotor skills development in preschool-aged children. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03261492 (8/25/17).
Keywords: Latinos; child day care centers; social ecology.