Influences of environment on development in children’s motor skills
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Educators and parents give great consideration to conditions/games that may improve cognitive abilities of pupils whereas little attention is paid to the effects on motor behaviour. Aim of this study is to determine if/how space organization modulates physical activity levels in 3-5 years old children performing unstructured games.Ninety-nine children aged 3-5 ys of a nursery school were divided in small groups of homogeneous age and videorecorded while performing unstructured games for 30 min in an empty playroom. Each group was exposed to 4 different conditions where the only objects present in the room were: A) circles spread on the floor or B) piled; C) a pool filled with plastic balls placed in either the left or D) the right corner of the room. In each condition we measured movement by means of a pedometer and the time spent by each child: 1- running and/or walking without object manipulation; 2- manipulating the object; 3- standing with no activity. Sequence of exposure was: A →C → B → D → A →B. Interval between each condition was 15 days. Statistical analysis was performed by paired t Students test.The motor behaviour of the children was homogeneous as no statistical difference was observed between groups. In condition A children spend most of their time running/walking will little or none manipulation. In condition B children use circles for manual and symbolic games throughout all the time. No differences in motor behavior were noted between condition C and D. When children were re-exposed to condition A, the manual/symbolic behavior predominated over running/walking. The number of steps during each 30 min of testing was largest for condition A and lower for C and D.The data indicate that organization of playground modulates motor behaviour of children playing unstructured games, whereas selection of tools available to children and their mode of presentation influence the intensity of physical activity.