The provision of movement experiences in Australian early childhood curriculum: Examining educators’ practices and children’s participation in physically active play.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Early childhood services are seen as an important sector for promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing the physical activity levels of children. However, current research has shown that, despite the provision of a range of appropriate resources and experiences during outdoor free play periods, preschool-aged children in early childhood services generally show low levels of physical activity. Research in schools and early childhood services has also shown that teacher-led (or structured) experiences are important for developing Fundamental Movement Skills and increasing the physical activity levels of children.

The present study extends this work through a multiple case study analysis of current provisions and practices for incorporating movement opportunities into the early childhood curriculum. Diverse methods were used in three case study sites to ascertain: (i) the opportunities made available for children to engage in physically active play and develop Fundamental Movement Skills; (ii) children’s participation within these experiences; (iii) the role of the educator during outdoor play; and (iv) the factors influencing the planning and provision of such experiences. Data collection included environmental mapping of the outdoor play space, descriptive observations of children’s and educators’ activity during outdoor play, and guided interviews and small group discussions with Directors and educators. Affordance Theory, particularly the work of Kyttä (2002, 2004), enabled analysis of the types of physically active play experiences provided in early childhood settings and the children’s participation in these experiences. Bourdieu’s (1980, 1990) theory of practice was applied to understand and clarify the relationship between educators’ practices and the contexts in which these practices occur.

The research increases knowledge regarding the complexities of how educators incorporate movement opportunities into the early childhood curriculum. The findings highlight the significant influence of personal and contextual factors in the provision of the movement curriculum, particularly the role of the Director in establishing the organisational culture, ethos and environment for promoting physical activity and Fundamental Movement Skills. The findings also provide valuable insights into the need for educators to engage in reflective practice to review current policies, curriculum provisions and teaching strategies, in order to improve professional practice and enrich the movement curriculum provided in early childhood services.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Harrison, Linda, Principal Supervisor, External person
  • Clarke, Deb, Co-Supervisor
  • Fordham, Loraine, Co-Supervisor, External person
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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