Skill-Based and Planned Active Play Versus Free-Play Effects on Fundamental Movement Skills in Preschoolers

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Fundamental movement skill interventions are important for promoting physical activity, but the optimal intervention model for preschool children remains unclear. We compared two 8-week interventions, a structured skill-station and a planned active play approach, to a free-play control condition on pre- and postintervention fundamental movement skills. We also collected data regarding program attendance and perceived enjoyment. We found a significant interaction effect between intervention type and time. A Tukey honest significant difference analysis supported a positive intervention effect showing a significant difference between both interventions and the free-play control condition. There was a significant between-group difference in group attendance such that mean attendance was higher for both the free-play and planned active play groups relative to the structured skill-based approach. There were no differences in attendance between free-play and planned active play groups, and there were no differences in enjoyment ratings between the two intervention groups. In sum, while both interventions led to improved fundamental movement skills, the active play approach offered several logistical advantages. Although these findings should be replicated, they can guide feasible and sustainable fundamental movement skill programs within day care settings.

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