WA preschoolers are lagging behind when it comes to basic physical skills, study shows

WA preschoolers are lagging behind when it comes to basic physical skills, study shows

by Freya Lucas

June 19, 2019

More than 4,000 children in Western Australia have been involved in a program run by the University of Western Australia (UWA), designed to test their level of basic physical skills like running, jumping and catching a ball. Researchers found that many children are falling well short of age-based expectations in these domains.

 

As a result of the findings, UWA researchers developed an eight week program concentrated on those areas and saw vast improvements. The skills improvement program, known as the UWA KIDDO program, is the largest of its kind in Perth.

 

UWA KIDDO supports children aged between three and eight years who are attending 41 WA schools and 11 early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres. Outlining the significance of the program, Program Director Amanda Derbyshire from UWA’s School of Human Sciences said that if children did not develop basic movement skills by the time they were 10, there was a strong chance they would be less active throughout childhood and as an adult; have less social confidence; and, have a higher risk of mental health issues and other health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

 

“It’s vital we get children moving early and make physical development a key component of their daily routine when at school or in ECEC,” Ms Derbyshire said. “A quality program which takes place where children learn is crucial because they spend a large amount of their time there.”

 

Goodstart Early Learning participation

Some Goodstart Early Learning centres in WA have been involved with the KIDDO program, which benefited educators at Goodstart Nollamara not only for the children attending through participation in the program, but with educators also benefiting from improved knowledge gained through a “train the trainer” approach.

 

Educators worked with KIDDO instructors over a four week period, to gain the skills and confidence to introduce children to fundamental movement skills through a combination of play-based learning and age-appropriate activity.

 

Centre Director Kylee Rangirangi said the program and website resources are a powerful tool for educators, allowing them to develop their own programs and further extend their learning in this area.

 

Physical literacy

Once a child is competent in fundamental movement skills, such as running, throwing, jumping and catching, they are able to participate in most physical activities with confidence, and are deemed to have physical literacy.

 

Physically literate children, UWA researchers said,:

 

  • Have a lot more fun being active
  • Have better social skills
  • Are happier and more confident
  • Improved attention and concentration levels

 

Further information about the programs available to ECEC services may be accessed through the website, or by contacting KIDDO using the details here.

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