Interrelationships and assessment criteria of gross motor skill development and obesity of preschool children in Potchefstroom
In the holistic development of the young child, optimal gross motor development has an important influence on optimal physical, perceptual, cognitive, language, affective-social and normative (behavioural) development (Kapp, 1991; Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998), and is therefore considered to be essential in the preschool years. The goal of this dissertation was to present the results of much-needed recent research on gross motor development of a group of children living in an urban area in South Africa, by 1) determining the current levels of gross motor development, 2) assessing the prevalence of and the influence of overweight and obesity on gross motor development, 3) establishing the relationship between overweight and obesity, gross motor development and gender, 4) determining the relationship between quantitative and qualitative assessment results of the one leg balance, and 5) investigating the occurrence of gender differences in gross motor development, in a group of 3-6 year old children living in Potchefstroom. These aims were addressed by structuring the dissertation in eight chapters, Chapter 1 constituting the introduction and statement of the problem, Chapter 2 a review of relevant literature, Chapters 3 to 7 constituting 5 research articles addressing the specific aims of the study, and Chapter 8 including the summary, conclusions and recommendations. For each of the 5 research articles, the participants were 3-6 year old children (N = 514) who lived in Potchefstroom and had been enrolled in the movement development program (MDP) presented by movement developmentalists of the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (P.U. for C.H.E.). Descriptive statistics (Chapter 3-7), practical significance based on effect sizes (Chapter 4 and 5), 2 way frequency tables and Pearson Chi-square as well as the Phi for two-way tables (Chapter 6), and t-values, degrees of difference and p-values (Chapter 7) were used. The current levels of gross motor development of preschool children in Potchefstroom (Chapter 3) were determined by testing a total of 462 3-6 year old children (215 males and 247 females) on 8 gross motor tasks, and comparing the results to norms and criteria as found in the literature. The 3, 4 and 5 year olds compared favourably to their counterparts in all the tests except for balance walk and catching, standing long jump in the 4 year olds and throwing in the 5 year old group. The 6 year old group scored lower than the norms and criteria in all the tests except for standing long jump, indicating alarming implications for school readiness. Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 examined the prevalence of and the differences in the quantitative and qualitative execution of four gross motor tasks (standing long jump, hopping, one leg balance and catching) between groups of overweight and obese (0) and nonobese (NO) boys, and girls, respectively. In the male study, 17 0-participants and 49 NO-participants were compared, while 13 0-participants and 54 NO-participants were used in the female study. Differences of practical significance (medium or large effects) in favour of nonobese groups were found in all the quantitative and qualitative tests among the male participants, while similar differences were found in only the quantitative tests for the one leg balance and all the qualitative tests among the female participants. A prevalence of overweight and obesity of 16.35% was found among the boys and 11.81% among the girls. The results indicated that 0-children of the ages 3-6 years generally compare poorly to NO-children in relation to gross motor proficiency. In Chapter 6, the one leg balance ability of 514 subjects was quantitatively and qualitatively assessed using valid norms and criteria found in literature. A positive relationship of statistical significance (p :S 0.05) was established between the quantitative and qualitative scores of the one leg balance in every age group. A relatively large percentage (44.10%) of 3 year olds scored well above the average level for their age in both types of assessment, indicating that the norms and criteria used might not be appropriate for 3 year olds. Relatively large percentages (25.27% - 27.47%) of the 6 year olds scored below the average level for 5 year olds in the qualitative assessment, suggesting developmental balance delays or disorders. These findings indicate that a quantitative and qualitative assessment should be combined to assure a more accurate assessment. The results of Chapter 7, involving 221 male and 243 female participants, showed significant gender differences in hopping and balancing on the right leg in favour of the females in the 3 year old group, and in the standing long jump and throwing for distance in favour of the males in the 5 and 6 year old groups, indicating that separate norms should be used for the different genders when assessing standing long jump and throwing for distance in 5 and 6 year olds. In the light of the findings of these studies, recommendations presented in Chapter 8 for the assessment and structuring of a programme for the optimal development of gross motor skills in preschool children, living in urban areas in South Africa, include that: 1) special attention should be given to the optimal development of gross motor skills of 6 year olds in a structured gross motor development programme, 2) obesity should be addressed even in the preschool years, and activities for the specific skills shown to be related to overweight and obesity (balance skills and catching in boys and girls and standing long jump in boys) should also be specifically emphasized in these children, 3) both a quantitative and a qualitative assessment should be used specifically in the one leg balance assessment and is recommended for other fundamental motor assessments, and 4) separate norms should be used for the assessment of the standing long jump and throwing for distance in 5 and 6 year olds, and more emphasis should be placed on ball skills in girls, and co-ordination skills of boys in the structuring of a movement development programme.
- Health Sciences