A Systematic Review of Educator-Led Physical Literacy and Activity Interventions

Am J Prev Med. 2023 May;64(5):742-760. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2023.01.010.


Introduction: Early childhood is a key time for the development of physical activity behaviors and physical literacy. A growing proportion of children spend a significant portion of their daytime in early childhood education and care settings where an early childhood educator cares for them. This systematic review (PROSPERO CRD42018087249) aimed to identify the differences between effective and noneffective educator-led interventions with a goal to improve physical literacy and/or physical activity in children aged 3-5 years in early childhood education and care settings.

Methods: Interventions were included if they aimed to improve at least 1 physical literacy component or physical activity time in children aged 2-6 years through educator training. MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, ERIC, Australian Education Index, and Sport Discus were searched in March 2018 and April 2021. Risk of bias was assessed through a modified Cochrane assessment tool.

Results: Data from 51 studies were analyzed in 2021 and 2022 and summarized narratively. Thirty-seven interventions aimed to promote physical activity, and 28 sought to promote physical literacy; 54% and 63% of these were effective, respectively. Interventions that were underpinned by theory, included ongoing support, or measured intervention fidelity were more effective, especially when all 3 were done.

Discussion: This review was limited by a high risk of bias and inconsistency in reporting results across interventions. Reporting physical activity by minutes per hour and reporting both sub and total scores in physical literacy assessments will allow for greater cross-comparison between trials. Future training of educators should be underpinned by theory and incorporate ongoing support and objective fidelity checks.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Literacy*
  • Motor Activity

Grants and funding