The Active Start Project

The US is suffering from a physical inactivity epidemic. Children today – even those under age 5 years – do not meet national physical activity recommendations. Failing to meet this recommendation has numerous health, social, and emotional consequences including increased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, and socioemotional and behavioral problems. The inactivity epidemic is also especially important given the growing literature linking gross motor abilities with working memory, emotional recognition, and overall cognitive development.

Quality early physical activity experiences are necessary to ensure the optimal development of the gross motor abilities that allow children to become physically literate, meaning children have competence and confidence in their ability to progress and execute a range of complex and combined movement skills. While numerous reports and international organizations emphasize the role and importance of physical literacy, there are few curriculum and training opportunities that target physical literacy and other aspects of development in early childhood.  This pilot study funded by the Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood sought to fill this gap.

The overall objective of this study was to examine the feasibility of training and coaching child care providers to implement a physical-literacy-based curriculum in early child care settings and to assess the efficacy of the curriculum on children’s physical activity levels, motor skills, and self-regulation.  We recruited 4 childcare centers with children ages 3-5 years old to participate in this 10-week randomized, controlled (delayed intervention) study.  The intervention consisted of training early childcare providers and implementation of a 10-week physical literacy curriculum.  Results are forthcoming.