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Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333

DOI 10.1007/s10643-011-0473-x

Preschool Movement Education in Turkey: Perceptions

of Preschool Administrators and Parents
Serap Sevimli-Celik Sadettin Kirazci

Mustafa Levent Ince

Published online: 28 June 2011

Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine the Introduction

perceptions of preschool administrators and parents about
preschool movement education and movement practices in The preschool years support young childrens development
preschools. Participants were 8 preschool administrators in cognitive, social-emotional, and physical domains.
and 21 parents from 8 randomly selected private preschools According to Gabbard (2000), these early years have been
in one of the municipalities in Ankara, Turkey. Semi- recognized as the critical time in which building blocks for
structured interviews, field visits, and observations were all future development are shaped. Thus, it is necessary to
conducted, and written documents were collected. The support childrens development in all domains (National
findings indicate that preschool administrators and parents Association for the Education of Young Children 2009).
have limited content knowledge in movement education. However, the physical development of young children is
Movement education practices were not aligned with usually ignored when it comes time to develop preschool
physical-education goals for these schools. Childrens curriculum (Ignico 1994; Stork and Sanders 2008).
participation in organized sport activities is valued more as Children are born to be physically active and naturally are
an extracurricular activity by administrators and parents. ready to discover different ways of moving. Movement edu-
Limited indoor/outdoor spaces for movement activities cation is most successful when it taps into this natural aptitude,
seem to be among the limiting factors for movement edu- so movement activities that are success-oriented, child-cen-
cation practices. To conclude, there is an immediate need tered, and non-competitive are the best support for physi-
to improve preschool administrators and parents knowl- cal development (Pica 2004; Valentini and Rudisill 2004;
edge of movement education and to enhance preschool Robinson and Goodway 2009). These activities for teaching in
facilities to ensure quality movement education. preschool are usually referred to as movement education.
Preschool is the ideal time to work on the development of
Keywords Preschool  Movement education  fundamental movement skills (FMS). FMS are locomotor
Preschool administrators  Parents (e.g., walking, running, jumping), non-locomotor (e.g.,
turning, twisting) and manipulative (e.g., throwing, catch-
ing, dribbling)all of which are skills basic to the physical
This study was conducted in Cankaya, Ankara, Turkey. domain. These skills must be mastered before learning more
complex and specialized sport skills, which involve the
S. Sevimli-Celik (&)  S. Kirazci  M. L. Ince combinations of fundamental movement skills in games,
Physical Education and Sports, Middle East Technical
sport, and dance activities (Gallahue and Ozmun 1998; Clark
University, ODTU Beden Egitimi Bolumu Egitim Fakultesi 404,
06531 Ankara, Turkey and Metcalfe 2002; Robinson and Goodway 2009; Haywood
e-mail: and Getchell 2009; Goodway et al. 2009; Robinson 2011).
S. Kirazci Research evidence has also indicated that movement
e-mail: education can help children in several different ways, all of
M. L. Ince which increase the exigency of preschool movement edu-
e-mail: cation. First, as noted above, it helps develop balanced

324 Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333

fundamental movement abilities (Zachopoulou et al. 2006; grouped the factors that influence the quality of movement
Stodden et al. 2008; Dowda et al. 2009). Second, move- education in preschool under three main categories: atti-
ment education is linked to better academic performance tudes of teachers toward movement education; role of the
(Mahar et al. 2006; Sattelmair and Ratey 2009). Third, administrators, parents, and preschool curriculum; and
movement education supports self-concept, self-discipline, teachers perceived behavioral control, confidence about
psychological well-being, moral judgment, and problem teaching movement, and possession or lack of knowledge.
solving (Theodorakou and Zervas 2003; Harrison and According to Rodriguez, within these categories, the
Naraya 2003; Ekeland et al. 2005; Trost et al. 2008). influence of administrators and parents had a direct impact
In addition, mastery of movement skills at an early age on the preschool teachers educational practices. Admin-
increases the possibility of childrens future physical istrators and parents attitudes and beliefs have a signifi-
activity participation as they grow up (Stodden et al. 2008; cant impact on the opportunities provided for children to
Haga 2008; Robinson and Goodway 2009). The positive participate in physical activity.
link between mastery of movement skills and physical School administrators perceptions of the value of
activity participation level is also helpful in fighting obesity, movement education can influence their support for their
which has become the number-one health-promotion pri- teachers. Marvin et al. (2003) reported that teacher percep-
ority of many nations (Center for Disease Control 2009; tion of positive administrative support had an influential
Turkish National Burden of Disease 2004). effect on the quality of early childhood education (ECE).
Moreover, beyond adding movement education to the Similarly, parents perceptions provide an accountability
preschool curriculum, educators should consider altering system over the students, school administrators, and teach-
school environments, when possible, for the sake of ers, and thereby influence the school policies and practices
movement education. It is essential to arrange environments (Pellegrini and Smith 1998; Deborah 2006). Accordingly,
so that children are encouraged to be physically active and school administrators and parents perceptions of move-
are challenged to discover different ways of moving. Recent ment education should not be neglected in educational
research indicates preschool as a great potential venue for evaluation studies. Studies of elementary school adminis-
physical activity promotion. According to Dowda et al. trators and parents perceptions have revealed that move-
(2009), children spent fewer minutes per hour in sedentary ment activities were ranked low with respect to other
activity and more minutes per hour in moderate/vigorous core subjects such as science, mathematics, and language
physical activity in preschools that had higher quality (Deborah 2006). Math, science, language, and social studies
scores, less fixed playground equipment, more portable are main foci for schools; therefore, administrators give their
playground equipment, lower use of electronic media, and priority to reach the aims forced by testing in these areas
larger playgrounds. These findings are supported by other (Bennett 2002). Lack of physical development in preschools
studies that report that children in centers with supportive may reflect similar beliefs and practices.
environments achieved more moderate-to-vigorous physi- Although studies of how school administrators and
cal activity, spent less time in sedentary activities, and had parents view movement education have been conducted in
higher mean physical activity levels compared to centres a number of countries, none have been on the Turkish
with less supportive environments (Bower et al. 2008). preschool educational context, which is what the present
In addition to the positive effects of supportive envi- study aimed to analyze. In Turkey, ECE is optional and
ronments on childrens physical activity levels, recent includes the education of children up to 7 years of age.
research has also demonstrated the influence of school Efforts have commenced to make ECE widespread
administrators and parents perceptions. Temple and throughout Turkey. However, more emphasis is given to
Naylor (2010) surveyed childcare providers perceptions the cognitive and social-emotional domains as in the other
about physical activity. Participants in the study reported parts of the world. Similarly, to date, most of the studies on
their physical activity levels as moderate or high. They preschool education in Turkey have investigated cognitive
found a positive relationship between the total minutes of and social development. Only a very limited number of
physical activity provided for children and care providers studies have examined physical development.
physical activity levels. This finding is consistent with Turkey, as a developing country and European Union
previous research (Brady et al. 2008), which has demon- membership candidate, with a population over 70 million
strated the value given to physical activities by parents and people, has recently experienced educational reform at
practitioners. Both groups of participants mentioned every level. Educational priority given to ECE has been
physical benefits and childrens enjoyment during partici- increasing and civil society institutions actively support
pation of these activities. this reform process (Mother Child Education Program
As indicated in the literature, several factors affect 2006). Studying the administrators and parents percep-
physical activity levels among children. Rodriguez (2005) tions on preschool movement education within Turkish

Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333 325

context is critical for enlightening and re-shaping the cur- are specialists in motor learning and curriculum
ricula for better education of preschoolers. It could also development.
provide important knowledge to preschool movement-
education stakeholders in other countries seeking to make Participants
cross-cultural comparisons.
Therefore, our specific research questions are: (1) what The majority of the school administrators and parents who
are the school administrators perceptions concerning pre- participated were women. Only one of the administrators
school movement education? (2) what are the parents and two of the parents were male. Seven of the adminis-
perceptions concerning preschool movement education? trators and 19 of the parents were female. The mean ages of
and (3) what are the movement education practices for the administrators and parents were 44.8 (SD = 11.5) and
young children in preschools? 33.8 (SD = 4.7) years, respectively. The administrators
held undergraduate degrees in psychology (n = 3), child
development (n = 3), and business management (n = 2).
A qualitative research design was chosen to conduct the
study. Data generation relied on semi-structured inter- Prior to the study, approval from the local research ethics
views, written document analysis, and researcher field committee was obtained. To obtain information from
notes during site visits. administrators and parents, two sets of interview questions
were developed. After preparing the initial interview
Setting and Sampling questions, to ensure the content validity, the questions were
checked by three experts in early childhood education and
The study setting was Cankaya, a major district of Ankara physical education. Then, the questions were tested in a
with a population of 769,000 people. This district had 6 pilot study. The pilot study was performed with 4 preschool
public and 45 private preschools at the study date. After administrators (mean age 50.2 5.7 years) and 12 parents
listing all private schools in the district, 8 of the 45 private (mean age 34.1 4.3 years). According to the outcomes
preschools were selected randomly and the administrators of the pilot study, the initial interview questions were
of these schools were invited to join the study. All 8 pre- re-evaluated and re-designed.
schools agreed to participate. From each school, 3 children
and their parents were randomly selected and invited to Interviews
participate in the study via a letter indicating the purpose
and procedures of the study. Twenty-four of the parents All interviews were conducted by the first author. The
(one of the parents of each child) agreed to be a participant interview sessions were semi-structured, commencing with
but later 3 of them withdrew from the study. a series of open-ended questions (see appendix) that were
Preschools that participated in this study are all-day designed to stimulate discussion about preschool move-
private preschools, and they have more opportunity to ment education. Questions were asked of school adminis-
include extracurricular activities and movement education trators and parents individually. Interview sessions lasted
than public schools. These private schools use an integra- between 30 and 60 min. All of the administrators and 11
tive and spiral developmental program for 3672 months- of the parents interviews were conducted in an available
old children, prepared by the Turkish Ministry of National room at the preschools. Ten of the parents interviews were
Education (MONE). Within the program, there are objec- conducted at their work places. All interviews were audio
tives and achievements that the child has to achieve recorded and transcribed completely.
throughout the school year. Child-centeredness is the main The main interview topics for the preschool adminis-
principle of the program. In the curriculum, activities are trators included: (1) the role of movement education in
listed with their explanations and teachers are asked to parents choice of preschools, (2) the perceived value of
enrich the educational environment by preparing develop- movement activities and outcome expectations from pre-
mentally appropriate activities. school movement education, (3) the planned movement
and physical activities at preschools, and (4) their personal
Researchers physical activity background and perceived knowledge
level on movement education. The main interview topic
The first author is an ECE specialist with a Masters degree areas for the parents were: (1) the role of movement edu-
in Physical Education and Sports. The co-authors are cation practices in their choice of a preschool for their
experts in the Physical Education and Sports field, and they child, (2) the perceived value of movement activities

326 Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333

compared to other disciplines and outcome expectations such themes as educational content of the preschool (75%;
from preschool movement education, (3) the planned n = 6), transparency (62%; n = 5), collaboration of pre-
movement and physical activity practices at preschools and school staff (19%; n = 4), and educational reputation of
out of preschool by their children, and (4) their own per- the preschool (24%; n = 5). Within the educational content
sonal physical activity background and perceived knowl- of the preschool theme, administrators drew attention to the
edge level on movement education. application of project-based curriculum in their preschools.
One of them stated:
Written Documents and Field Notes
Parents who know what the project-based curriculum
Written documents were collected to examine the role of is and its benefits on children choose our preschool.
movement education in the preschool curriculum, the We give children freedom to choose their own
planned movement activities, and the time devoted to those interests, which makes their learning enjoyable.
activities. Preschool philosophy statements, as well as The second main interview topic area was about pre-
yearly and weekly lesson plans, were obtained from the school administrators perceived value of movement
administrators of each preschool. Each preschool was vis- activities and outcome expectations from movement edu-
ited one or two times for field observations of the move- cation. Different from parents responses, administrators
ment activity facilities. In addition, field notes describing generally mentioned the benefits of those activities in terms
the quality and quantity of facilities were taken. of supporting childrens cognition. Some excerpts from the
verbatim comments follow:
Data Analysis
Preschool years are important for brain development
Data analysis involved an initial general review of all of children. Therefore, as educators we are respon-
information. Then, each transcript, any field notes written sible to support this area as young as they are. In our
during or soon after the interviews and field visits, any preschool we use movement as a vehicle for learning.
reflective notes, and memos produced about the data were Through movement activities, we are teaching math
evaluated. Next, data were reduced via meaning conden- to our students. They can jump and count at the same
sation of longer passages and de-contextualized via cate- time.
gorization through the development of cluster codes that
Some of our parents want us to focus on their chil-
were used to sort the data. Finally, the data were inter-
drens cognitive development only. They dont give
pretively re-contextualized into emergent themes as sug-
any value to the activities other than math and science.
gested by Patton (1990) and Denzin and Lincoln (1994). To
As a school, we also believe the importance of play,
ensure authenticity of the coding, all interviews were coded
movement, dance, and music. Therefore, we are using
by the lead author and the two other researchers who had
these activities to promote cognitive development.
experience in qualitative research. All the coders agreed
with one another on the coded themes. Swimming is great way to teach kids numbers and we
Throughout the data-analysis process, triangulation was are using it while we are practicing leg strokes at the
used by comparing the administrators answers with the pool. We are counting and stroking at the same time
parents answers and both with the school curriculum and ask them how many they counted.
content. Member checking with 15 participants was
In relation to being asked about the perceived value of
employed to ensure the internal validity. Administrators and
movement activities, preschool administrators were asked
parents were given a copy of their transcribed interview and
to rank the study subjects in order according to their
asked to comment, edit, and extend it if necessary.
importance (1 is very important and 9 is not important).
Five (62%) administrators ranked movement activities at
higher levels (1 and 2), because they saw those activities as
Results facilitators for cognitive development. Three (14%)
administrators rated the movement activities at lower levels
Preschool Administrator Responses (6 and 7) and gave their first priorities to language, math,
and science lessons. As with some of the parents, admin-
To find out the importance of movement education activ- istrators had the idea that movement occurs naturally,
ities for parents choice of preschool, preschool adminis- whereas subjects like math are not naturally learned and
trators were asked about the factors influencing preschool need teacher instruction. One of their excerpts clearly
choice. The analysis of administrators responses revealed stressed the importance of teaching math and Turkish:

Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333 327

For me, the most important subjects to teach are math Administrators personal physical activity backgrounds
and Turkish. Sports are also necessary for health but and perceived knowledge levels of movement education
first math and Turkish. If you want to establish a was the fourth main interview area. Four (50%) of the
strong educational background for your children, you preschool administrators were exercising regularly. They
should start from very early ages. reported participation in swimming, walking, and yoga.
The other four (50%) were not participating regularly in
Administrators were also asked to describe what
any such activity. In relation to their knowledge, six of the
movement education means. Locomotor skills (n = 15,
administrators rated their current knowledge level as
each administrator nominated to say more than one
enough and two of them as minimal. Administrators
description) were the common answers given by all
who rated their knowledge as enough commonly men-
administrators. Unlike parents, administrators generally
tioned the impact of physical education classes in their
focused on defining movement education in terms of such
college education. Some of them stated that reading well-
fundamental skills as running, jumping, climbing, crawl-
known books about the subject and observing specialized
ing, and hopping. They also described it as dance (25%;
physical education teachers were also useful to get ideas
n = 2), taekwondo (12%; n = 1) and yoga (12%; n = 1).
about movement education.
The third main interview topic area aimed to understand
Lastly, administrators were asked about what they
the planned movement activities and the time devoted to
would like to improve in their school settings for better
those activities in preschools. Therefore, administrators
movement education practices. Having both indoor and
were first asked what kinds of movement activities they
outdoor spaces (87%; n = 7) was the main theme that
offer to encourage children to engage in physical activities.
emerged from the responses. Some of their excerpts clearly
They provided a wide variety of specialized movement
activities such as rhythmic gymnastics (62%; n = 5), ballet
(62%; n = 5), horse riding (50%; n = 4), yoga (50%; I would like to have a large indoor space for move-
n = 4), swimming (37%; n = 3), tennis (12%; n = 1), and ment and free play. I would like to have a gymnastics
ice-skating (12%; n = 1). Time allocated to these activities room or separate corners in the classes that are
was specified as between 30 and 60 min. Some of the always ready and can be used for movement activi-
administrators explained their reasons for offering such ties. Otherwise it is really difficult to move from one
activities as: place to another to play.
Some of our parents want to send their children to Bigger indoor spaces! Id like to have rooms for
ballet or yoga lessons, and they all have different ballet, yoga, and tennis only. Id like to have variety
demands. As a school we offer them lots of activities of mats, balls, pillows and mirrors for gymnastics
so they can choose whatever they want. lesson. Id like to have them all in separate rooms so
while one group is practicing or performing ballet,
We offer yoga and gymnastics lessons and we do not
another group can play tennis.
take extra money for these lessons. Also, we have
30-min gymnastics lessons and free play activities We dont have an outdoor area to play. Children can-
every day. not release their energy throughout the day. Therefore,
Id like to have a outdoor play area in my school.
Administrators also indicated running (37%; n = 3),
jumping (25%; n = 2) and catching (12%; n = 1) as Administrators (62%; n = 5) emphasized teaching
activities implemented in their schools. However, they swimming to preschoolers, and most of them wanted to
could not give a specific time devoted to those activities. have a swimming pool at their centers. One of the
To cross-check the administrators responses, the administrators was complaining about not having gym-
researcher looked into the schools yearly and weekly nastics lessons every day and she wanted to increase the
curricula to search the hours devoted to the fundamental time for gymnastics lessons. Having a theatre room,
movement activities. It was found that there was not spe- handball field, and winter garden were the other demands
cific time dedicated to these activities, and most of the mentioned by the administrators. They would have liked to
activities were defined as free play. It was also found in offer different kinds of play materials (e.g., monkey bars,
their curricula that activities which served as movement did see saws, sand and water, crawl tubes) in their playgrounds.
not encourage participation by all children (i.e., only a few Although they had plenty of balls, bicycles, hula hoops,
children were active at any given time and the rest simply ribbons, traffic cones, and ropes, administrators were
watched). The activities were also elimination- and com- complaining about not being able to use them because of
petition-based in their nature. storage problems. Preschools participating in this study

328 Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333

were located in duplex or triplex buildings that caused a I want my child to learn social rules like being
major space barrier. They did not have enough space for patient, kind, and respectful to othershe is a single
storing equipment in a fixed place, so the equipment was childphysical activities are the best way to do all
carried from one place to another, which further decreased this. It helps children to learn those rules.
the likelihood of using it. According to administrators,
I always see physical activity as influential on chil-
teachers feel overwhelmed by having to carry the equip-
drens life. It is important for cognitive and physical
ment during physical education activities, so they prefer
development, as well as for releasing the childs
not to use them.
Parent Responses It has an effect on the cognitive development.
They can learn math concepts through movement
The first main interview topic area in this study was to find activities.
out the priority parents assigned to movement education
In responding to the ranking of the school subjects (1 is
activities when making preschool choices. The analysis of
very important and 9 is not important), 14 parents gave
their responses revealed the following themes: recom-
movement activities higher rankings (9 parents ranked
mendation from other parents (43%; n = 9), competence
them as 1 and 5 parents as 2). Those parents reasons to
of the preschool staff (33%; n = 7), educational reputation
rank movement activities at higher levels stemmed from
of the preschool (28%; n = 6), physical condition of the
social-emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits, as
preschool (28%; n = 6), location or proximity of the pre-
mentioned before. On the other hand, parents who gave
school to home or workplace (19%; n = 4), and others
movement activities lower rankings (33%; n = 7) stated
(24%; n = 5). Parents commonly emphasized that their
that schools should have given their priority to subjects
choice of preschool was influenced by the opinion of others
such as math, science, and Turkish. One of the parents
who had experienced those preschools before. Their choice
explained her reason clearly:
of preschool was also influenced by the competence of the
school staff to cater to their childrens needs. Another They can always run and jump around the classroom
influence on parent choice of preschool was the educational or at home but they cannot learn math or science
reputation of the school. They expressed the sentiment that somewhere else other than school. Therefore, my
good education starts with selecting a sound school. priority will always be given to the subjects like math
Therefore, parents chose schools that had solid, respectable and science.
academic curricula. Within this theme, they also empha-
Parents were also asked to define what movement edu-
sized that the opportunity to take some art, music, gym-
cation is for preschool children. They mostly described it in
nastics, or computer lessons with a specialized teacher was
the context of locomotor skills (95%; n = 20), play (43%;
a significant factor when they were choosing a preschool.
n = 9), drama (33%; n = 7), and dance (24%; n = 5). In
Having enough space and resources, being nearby, trans-
other words, parents highlighted the activities like running,
parently run, clean, and secure were the other important
jumping, and hopping as a promotion for gross motor
factors for preschools in these parents choices.
development. Other parents also defined movement edu-
The second main interview topic area was about parents
cation as play. According to them, while children are
perceptions of the value of movement activities and out-
playing, they are moving around the class and this keeps
come expectations from preschool movement education.
them active. Since movement education involves creative
The following themes emerged from their responses:
bodily expressions and performances, parents also defined
physical and health benefits (90%; n = 19), social-emo-
it as drama and dance.
tional benefits (62%; n = 13), energy release (24%;
The third main topic area for parents was about the
n = 5), and cognitive benefits (10%; n = 2). They claimed
planned movement activity practices at preschools or out of
movement activities as important facilitators for develop-
preschool. Many parents were aware of what was hap-
ing flexibility of the body; learning colors, shapes, and
pening at their childs preschool in relation to the move-
numbers; participating in group activities; waiting in turns;
ment activities. Specialized movement activities (n = 34,
learning how to share; taking responsibility; and enhancing
each parent nominated more than one activity), physical
communication, self-expression, and personality skills.
education (33%; n = 7), dance (28%; n = 6), drama (24%;
Some of their excerpts are presented below:
n = 5) and locomotor activities (19%; n = 4) were the
Movement is very important for physical develop- main themes that emerged from their responses. Parents
ment. It helps them to improve their flexibility and commonly focused on the aspect of specialized movement
prevent childhood obesity. activities such as ballet (48%; n = 10), horse riding (28%;

Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333 329

n = 6), yoga (28%; n = 6), swimming (24%; n = 5), Table 1 Summary of the Findings
gymnastics (14%; n = 3), taekwondo (14%; n = 3) and Perceptions of school administrators:
ice-skating (5%; n = 1). Seven (33%) parents mentioned Movement education opportunities in the preschool have limited
physical education lessons that were planned for pre- influence on parents school choice
schoolers. When they were asked to explain what their Movement education is not at the core of preschool curriculum
children were doing at their physical education lessons, Movement education is important in supporting childrens
they were unsure about the content of the lessons but cognition and fundamental movement skills
explained that they knew of such lessons from the Most administrators perceive their own movement education
descriptions of their children or from the notice pinned on content area knowledge level as good
the notice board by the preschool. Indoor and outdoor activity areas need improvement in their
Parents were also asked about the teacher who was preschool
responsible for movement activities and the time devoted Perceptions of parents:
those activities. All of the parents participated in this study Movement education opportunities in the preschool have limited
influence on their school choice
mentioned that there were specialized, part-time teachers,
Movement education is fundamental to development of physical
responsible for each specialized lesson such as ballet, and social-emotional characteristics, as well as health of
swimming, tennis, taekwondo, yoga, modern dance, and preschool children
ice-skating. In regard to parents responses, those activities Most of the parents are focusing on the sport-specific skill
were practiced from 30 min to 1 h once a week. development for their children
Parents personal physical-activity backgrounds and Most of the parents perceive their own movement education
perceived knowledge levels of movement education was content area knowledge level as poor
the fourth main interview area. Eleven (52%) of the Movement education practices and opportunities in the preschool:
parents exercised regularly. Walking, swimming, general Indoor and outdoor activity areas are very limited, and school
infrastructures are not suitable for movement activities
fitness, running, cycling, skiing, and table tennis were the
preferred physical activities by parents. They were also Time allocated to movement education varies between 30 and
60 min per week, and mainly it consists of sport-specific
supportive of their childrens physical activity participa- activities being taught by specialized teachers
tion apart from school. Their children were taking horse
riding (24%; n = 5), swimming (19%; n = 4) and ballet
(10%; n = 2) lessons. Other parents (48%; n = 10)
reported sedentary lifestyles because of their busy movement activities. According to them, preschools
schedules. had limited spaces that were not safe enough to move or
Related to their perceived knowledge level of movement play.
education, 12 (57%) parents rated their current knowledge As a result, the study results show that movement edu-
and understanding as non-existent, 4 (19%) of them rated it cation opportunities in the preschool have limited influence
as minimal, and 5 (24%) of them rated it as adequate. on parents school choice. Although movement education
Parents who rated their knowledge as adequate made has physical, cognitive, and social-emotional benefits, it is
statements such as: not at the core of preschool curriculum. Time allocated to
movement education varies between 30 and 60 min per
I exercise regularly and know the importance of it for week, and mainly it consists of sport-specific activities
me and my child as well. I am trying to read being taught by specialized teachers. Table 1 shows the
resources about it, so I see myself knowledgeable summary of the findings.
about the topic.
My knowledge is pretty good. I usually talk with my
sons swimming coach about his physical develop-
ment. He always explains his progress and guides us
what to do about his training.
The findings of this study give voice to the perceptions of
At the end of the interview, parents were also asked if two important stakeholderspreschool administrators and
they had any requests for their preschools relating to parentsregarding preschool movement education. We
movement-education practices. Eleven (52%) parents said heard both groups with respect to the role of movement
they would like to see more time (2 or 3 times a week) education practices in preschool choice, the perceived
devoted to specialized activitiesespecially swimming, value of movement activities and outcome expectations,
ballet, and horse riding. Ten (48%) parents stated their the planned movement activities at preschools, and the
concerns about schools not having enough space for perceived knowledge level of movement education. Both

330 Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333

groups responses indicated that movement-education administrators felt their knowledge was adequate and
practices did not have any effect on school choice. Instead, confident about teaching those activities. Consistent with
educational reputation of the preschool, physical condi- this finding, two recent studies by Obeng (2010) and
tions, curriculum content, proximity, and transparency Temple and Naylor (2010) also found that care providers
were the influential factors when selecting a preschool. confidence in their ability to promote physical activities
Moreover, the impact of significant others outside the was defined as one of the predisposing factors for
family had an influence on preschool choice which was movement activities. However, that one has enough
similar with the findings of Nobles (2007) study. knowledge or confidence on the topic does not imply that
Parents and preschool administrators spoke about the one can offer quality preschool movement activities. The
value given to movement-education activities. A majority content of the knowledge is crucial, as both groups of
of the parents felt that participation in those activities participants in this study did not realize the importance
would support their childrens physical, social-emotional, and necessity of fundamental movement skills in the early
and cognitive development. The result of a study con- years. Regular opportunities for professional development,
ducted by Nonis (2005) hinted at similar inferences, as specifically regarding fundamental movement skills,
parents were found to be keen on their childrens sport would be beneficial for both groups of participants,
participation to promote fit, active, and healthy lifestyles. especially for school administrators. Preschools that par-
Development of childrens self-esteem, confidence, and ticipated in this study offered a variety of organized
self-discipline were some additional outcomes of move- sport activities, but the quality and benefits for the chil-
ment education found in both this and Noniss (2005) dren of such activities should be evaluated in terms of
study. However, preschool administrators who partici- developmental appropriateness. Workshops, seminars, or
pated in this study generally focused on the aspect of trainings might provide a well-balanced approach between
cognitive benefits of movement education activities, theories and practice that could help preschools to both
because of the concerns about academic pressure. They understand and implement movement activities in class-
also ranked math, science and Turkish higher in com- room settings.
parison to other areas such as art, music, and move- Furthermore, field notes and participants responses
ment. This finding was consistent with previous research indicate that the preschools that participated in this study
(Pellegrini and Smith 1998; Deborah 2006) suggesting do not have enough indoor/outdoor spaces and suitable
that school administrators are positively predisposed infrastructure for movement activities. Similar findings
toward math and science and not focusing on movement, were found in Cashmore and Jones (2008) study, in which
music or arts. school staff were interviewed through focus groups. The
Preschools that participated in this study had a tendency participants were reluctant to implement movement activ-
to include organized sports rather than focusing on the ities in their preschools, especially during the outdoor time.
development of basic fundamental movement skills. Obeng However, they mentioned inadequate outdoor space as a
(2010) stated that organized sports with significant physical barrier to implementing movement activities. To effec-
demands are inappropriate for preschoolers and recom- tively address preschoolers fundamental movement skills,
mended supporting fundamental movement skills that are it is necessary to have enough time and space to allow them
not naturally developed but require instruction to be to be physically active. Therefore, there is an immediate
learned during the early years. According to Active Start need to improve the preschool physical facilities to ensure
Guidelines developed by the National Association for Sport quality movement education.
and Physical Education (2009), 60 min of structured In addition to the content knowledge and space, another
movement activities for preschoolers in a day are needed influential factor on childrens levels of physical activity is
for refinement of fundamental movement skills. Pre- whether they have adults as role models. Other studies
schoolers also need another 60 min of unstructured play to found parental influence on childrens physical activity.
be able to practice their physical skills. However, docu- According to Zecevic et al. (2010), children who received
ment analysis and field notes indicated that the preschools greater parental support for physical activity were 6 times
that participated in this study did not allocate enough time more likely to be active. Similarly, school staff play a
for fundamental movement skills. Instead, they reserved significant role in encouraging children to go outside and
most of their time for math, science, language, and orga- engage in physically active play (Brady et al. 2008; Huang
nized sport skills. et al. 2010). Therefore, parents and school administrators
With respect to their perceived knowledge level of should be encouraged to serve as positive role models by
movement education, a majority of the parents rated their actively participating in school and community sport
knowledge as non-existent. On the other side, most of the activities.

Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333 331

This study is a broad look at the perceptions of school school administrators about the importance of movement
administrators and parents about preschool movement education in terms of the development of basic funda-
education. Future research may focus on the views of mental movement skills. Moreover, preschool children
classroom teachers and specialized physical-education should accumulate at least 60 min daily of structured
teachers as well. Moreover, the only preschools that par- movement activities and 60 min of unstructured movement
ticipated in this study were private preschools, so further activities. They should be active as much as possible, so
research might focus on public preschools to see the dif- schools should arrange their movement-activity opportu-
ferences and similarities in movement-education practices nities to achieve this goal. Finally, preschool children need
in both settings. Lastly, re-application of this study with a enough space and equipment to practice their movement
wider sample should also be considered. skills. Therefore, the schools that participated in this study
To conclude, the preschools that participated in this need improvement in their indoor and outdoor spaces to
study provide a variety of physical activity opportunities, allow and encourage movement-skill acquisition in a
but the quality and benefits of such activities for the chil- playful, enjoyable, and safe manner.
dren should be investigated in terms of developmental
appropriateness. Most of the practices aimed to support
childrens physical development were sport-specific skills Appendix
such as ballet, swimming, horseback riding, ice-skating,
and tennis. It would be beneficial to inform parents and See Table 2.

Table 2 Interview questions for school administrators and parents

School administrators Parents

What are the factors that influence parents in choosing your Why did you prefer this preschool for your children?
Please order the following subjects according to importance Please order the following preschool subjects according to their
in preschoolers education. (A school subject list given.) importance. (A school subject list given.)
Why did you rate movement education at this order? Why did you rate movement activities at this order?
Write five words or phrases that describe physical activity Write five words or phrases that describe physical activity
for preschoolers. for your child.
What do you think about the role of movement education What do you think about the role of movement education
in preschoolers education? for your child?
How do you rate your movement education content area As a result of preschool movement education, what
knowledge level? (Poor, fair, good, very good, excellent) competencies/skills do you expect to see in your child?
What type of movement education activities are offered What do you know about physical activity (movement
to the students in your school and why? education) practices in your childs school?
Who is planning the movement education practices in your How do you rate your current level of knowledge and
school? understanding about physical activity for preschoolers?
(Poor, fair, good, very good, excellent)
What is the weekly length of time devoted to movement How many hours does your child spend in movement activities
education in your school? weekly in school?
Which of the following movement education equipments Does your child participate in physical activities out of school?
are present in your school? (A list is given.) If yes, what type of activities?
If you have a chance to improve the movement education As a parent, do you have any requests for the school in terms
setting in your school, what would be your priorities? of your childs physical development?
Do you participate in regular physical activity? If yes, what Do you participate in regular physical activity? If yes, what
type of activities? type of activities?

332 Early Childhood Educ J (2011) 39:323333

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