- Despite the importance of early childhood services for promoting and increasing children’s physical activity levels, research shows preschool-aged children in early childhood services generally show low levels of physical activity
- Recent research increases knowledge of the complexities of how educators incorporate movement opportunities into the early childhood curriculum
- Directors of early childhood services have an important role in establishing the organisational culture, ethos and environment for promoting physical activity
Research by a recently graduated Charles Sturt University lecturer explored the need for educators to engage in reflective practice in order to improve their own teaching and enrich the movement curriculum provided in early childhood services.
Course Director in the Charles Sturt Faculty of Arts and Education Dr Kelly-Ann Tribolet (pictured, inset) was awarded her PhD at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday 2 June.
Her research is titled ‘The provision of movement experiences in Australian early childhood curriculum: examining educators’ practices and children’s participation in physically active play’.
Dr Tribolet said early childhood services are seen as an important sector for promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing the physical activity levels of children.
“However, current research has shown that, despite the provision of a range of appropriate resources and experiences during outdoor free play periods, preschool-aged children in early childhood services generally show low levels of physical activity,” she said.
“Research in schools and early childhood services has also shown that teacher-led or teacher-structured experiences are important for developing Fundamental Movement Skills and increasing the physical activity levels of children.”
Dr Tribolet’s research extended this work through a multiple case study analysis of current provisions and practices for incorporating movement opportunities into the early childhood curriculum.
She used diverse methods in three case study sites to determine:
- the opportunities made available for children to engage in physically active play and develop Fundamental Movement Skills and children’s participation within these experiences;
- the role of the educator during outdoor play; and
- the factors influencing the planning and provision of such experiences.
Data collection included environmental mapping of the outdoor play space, descriptive observations of children’s and educators’ activity during outdoor play, and guided interviews and small group discussions with Directors and educators.
The research adds to the knowledge about the complexities of how educators incorporate movement opportunities into the early childhood curriculum.
The findings highlight the significant influence of personal and contextual factors in the provision of the movement curriculum, particularly the role of the Director in establishing the organisational culture, ethos and environment for promoting physical activity and Fundamental Movement Skills.
The findings also provide valuable insights into the need for educators to engage in reflective practice to review current policies, curriculum provisions and teaching strategies, in order to improve professional practice and enrich the movement curriculum provided in early childhood services.