Outdoor activities and motor development in 2–7-year-old boys and girls
Sääkslahti, A., & Niemistö, D. (2021). Outdoor activities and motor development in 2–7-year-old boys and girls. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 21(SI1), 463-468. https://doi.org/10.7752/jpes.2021.s1047
Published inJournal of Physical Education and Sport
© 2021 JPES
Problem Statement: Parents of young children favor indoor activities for their children, because staying inside supports comfortable daily routines in the family timetable, safety issues and clothing. However, playing outdoors supports children’s development, offering multiple challenges to overcome and the possibility to learn new skills. Approach: Based on Gibson’s theory of affordances (1977), outdoors can be seen as an excellent learning environment for children to reach the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1987). Purpose: This paper describes Finnish nature and four seasons as an environment to support children’s motor development and inspire outdoor playing. The Skilled kids participants (N= 1136, 2- to 7-year-old children) were chosen by cluster randomization from childcare centers representing young children’s motor competence in geographically different parts of Finland. Children’s motor competence was measured with the Test of Gross Motor Development, TGMD-3 (Ulrich, 2019). Results: Young children living in countryside and in small cities had better motor competence and spent more time playing outdoors than children living in metropolitan area. This difference in the amount of outdoor play and the motor competence underlines the importance of outdoor facilities. The description of the Finnish outdoor environment, such as forest, water, snow and ice, reveals environmental factors that may attract and motivate children to challenge their motor abilities. Therefore, the environment can support physically active playing, increasing young children’s overall physical activity and motor competence. Conclusions: Versatile environments stimulate children’s motor development. Parents and teachers of young children should be encouraged to let their children play outdoors during all seasons in different weather conditions. Appropriate clothing guarantees free playing, daily timetables in day care should allow outdoor playing sessions, and outdoor play yards should have large area with different affordances for children’s free use. ...
PublisherEditura Universitatea din Pitești
Dataset(s) related to the publicationSääkslahti, Arja; Niemistö, Donna; Laukkanen, Arto; Finni Juutinen, Taija; Lenoir, Matthieu; Cantell, Marja; Barnett, Lisa M. (2022). "Skilled Kids" study's research data. V. 31.5.2017. https://doi.org/10.17011/jyx/dataset/82137. https://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:jyu-202206303738
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