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Flemish preschool children's fundamental movement skill performance in relation to individual and family correlates.

Monday, 26 April, 2010 - 17:30
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Physical Education and Physiotherapy
Wouter Cools
phd defence


Developing fundamental movement skills (FMS) is an important part of a preschool
child’s development. These skills support also the motor competence to sustain lifelong
participation in physical activities and sports. The aim of this PhD study is to gain insight
into the current fundamental movement skill performance level of four- to six-year-old
preschool children and into the relationship between de developmental level of these
skills, child specific and family related factors.

Measurement of fundamental movement skills

Several movement skill tests can be used to measure FMS performance. To select an
appropriate test for our target group of preschool children, 7 different tests were
compared. The Motoriktest für Vier- bis Sechsjährige Kinder (MOT4-6) was selected for
this study as it complied most with the requirements of the target group. Additional
research concerning validity and reliability of the selected test was performed. High
inter-rater reliability was shown when a trained rater was compared to an experienced
rater. A study comparing the MOT 4-6 and the Movement ABC test results, showed high
classification agreement of children. Interrelated agreement between the gross
movement skill components of both tests was moderate and weak between the fine
movement skill components.

Subsequently we examined FMS performance of 1208 four- to six-year-old preschool
children. The children’s scores were compared to the normative data from the test’s
manual. The results showed that 35% of the preschool children is classified as under
average to weak. 59 % of the children showed average performances and only 6% has
above average FMS performance. These results support findings from similar studies
and underline that there is a number of preschool children that may have a potential of
skilfulness that is currently not stimulated to continue its development.

The relationship between FMS, child specific and family related factors

The relationship between the preschool children’s FMS performance level and child
specific as well as family related factors was examined in the second part of this study.
This study matched children’s FMS performance data to reported data from a parental
questionnaire. In the final sample, data from 846 preschool children were analysed with
a multiple moderated regression analysis.

The results from the study show that preschool children with a higher body mass index
have lower FMS performances. Participation in formal activities, outdoor play and
participation in sports weeks are related to higher FMS performance in preschool
children. Among family related factors, children’s higher FMS performance is related to
higher educational level of parents, higher frequency of receiving new play equipment,
higher use of active transport, higher parental importance rating on movement skill
development and higher population density of the living area. Lower FMS performance
was found for children whose parents gave high importance rating on sufficient sleep
and had high frequency of inquiring the PE teacher on the child’s motor development.
These results underline the importance of goal-oriented interventions. Paying special
attention to preschool children with parents who have a lower educational level and
children with a higher BMI is recommended.