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Health Educ Res. 2012 Feb;27(1):81-100. doi: 10.1093/her/cyr038. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Physical activity in child-care centers: do teachers hold the key to the playground?

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA. kristen.copeland@cchmc.org

Abstract

Many (56%) US children aged 3-5 years are in center-based childcare and are not obtaining recommended levels of physical activity. In order to determine what child-care teachers/providers perceived as benefits and barriers to children's physical activity in child-care centers, we conducted nine focus groups and 13 one-on-one interviews with 49 child-care teachers/providers in Cincinnati, OH. Participants noted physical and socio-emotional benefits of physical activity particular to preschoolers (e.g. gross motor skill development, self-confidence after mastery of new skills and improved mood, attention and napping after exercise) but also noted several barriers including their own personal attitudes (e.g. low self-efficacy) and preferences to avoid the outdoors (e.g. don't like hot/cold weather, getting dirty, chaos of playground). Because individual teachers determine daily schedules and ultimately make the decision whether to take the children outdoors, they serve as gatekeepers to the playground. Participants discussed a spectrum of roles on the playground, from facilitator to chaperone to physical activity inhibitor. These findings suggest that children could have very different gross motor experiences even within the same facility (with presumably the same environment and policies), based on the beliefs, creativity and level of engagement of their teacher.

PMID:
21804083
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3258280
Free PMC Article
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