An Evaluation of Preschool Children’s Physical Activity within Indoor Preschool Play Environments

  • Author / Creator
    Hughes, Barbara E
  • This observational study provides a multiple case comparison of the physical activity of preschool children during designated ‘free play’ within indoor play spaces at their preschool. The study assessed three recreational preschool program sites within the Municipality of Strathcona County, Alberta including the Ardrossan Recreation Complex, the Kinsmen Leisure Centre, and the Strathcona Olympiette Centre. The study sample was comprised of preschool children, aged three to five years, (n=125) enrolled in these programs from September 2014 to June 2015. Video observations were recorded each month over this nine month period; these video observations were in lieu of direct observation. Brown et al.’s (2006) Observation System for Recording Physical Activity in Children – Preschool (OSRAC-P) was used to collect information about the type and intensity of physical activity, the physical environment, and the social context in which play occurs. Three research questions guided this work: 1. How physically active are preschool children during designated free play time in indoor play spaces at their preschool? 2. What types of play activities promote the highest and lowest levels of physical activity among preschool children during designated free play time in indoor play spaces at their preschool? 3. What types of physical activity do preschool children engage in during designated free play time in indoor play spaces at their preschool? A descriptive analysis of the level and types of physical activity and types of play activity, including frequency and Pearson Chi-square testing, was completed. Findings indicated that participating preschool children were largely sedentary during designated free play time within indoor play settings. One site, however, provided evidence that indoor play spaces can promote higher levels of physical activity. Statistically significant differences were found in levels and types of physical activity and play activities when comparing the sites, suggesting that the specific preschool site significantly influences physical activity and play of preschool children. OSRAC-P variables related to social context were analyzed and revealed that a focus on active play opportunities, teacher facilitation during play, and higher social interaction may stimulate increased physical activity. These associations require further testing to ensure generalizability. Given these findings, further investigation is also needed to identify the specific correlates that influence young children’s physical activity during free play within indoor play spaces. Future research needs to consider both the immediate play setting and the role of the broader levels of influence including public policy.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.