Factors that limit and enable preschool-aged children's physical activity on child care centre playgrounds
Coleman, B and Dyment, JE, Factors that limit and enable preschool-aged children's physical activity on child care centre playgrounds, Journal of Early Childhood Research, 11, (3) pp. 203-221. ISSN 1476-718X (2013) [Refereed Article]
The incidence of childhood obesity amongst preschool-aged children has increased dramatically in recent years and can be attributed, in part, to a lack of physical activity amongst children in this age group. This study explores the social factors that stand to limit and/or enable children’s physical activity opportunities in outdoor settings in child care centres. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 16 educators from four child care centres in Tasmania, Australia, to ascertain the educators’ perceptions of children’s physical activity and the child care centre policies and practices that stand to limit and/or enable physical opportunities on outdoor playgrounds in child care centres. The major finding of this study is that, despite educators’ positive perceptions of the importance of physical activity for preschool-aged children, child care centre policies and practices relating to children’s safety and supervision during outdoor times are limiting educators’ abilities to facilitate more structured physical activity opportunities for children in care. Educators also recognized that a lack of training limited their ability to provide physical activity opportunities. This article discusses the implications of these findings and concludes with a number of recommendations for future childhood obesity intervention strategies that can be implemented for preschool-aged children in child care centres.