The association between staff intention and pre-schoolers’ physical activity in early childhood education and care services

Sanne L. C Veldman, Rebecca M. Stanley, Anthony D. Okely, Rachel A. Jones

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Intentional teaching practices of early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators have a profound influence on children’s learning and health. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between educator intentionality and pre-schoolers physical activity. Objectively measured physical activity (Actigraphs) was measured on 225 preschool-aged children (mean age = 3.95 ± 0.35 years, 44.9% girls) from 21 ECEC centres. Educator’s intentional teaching practices in relation to physical activity learning experiences were assessed using a 10-item direct observation instrument. In centres with high intentionality scores (scores 6–10, n = 7, 33%) children spent significantly more time in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (p =.001, d = 0.45) compared to those centres with lower intentionality (scores 0–5). In high intentionality scoring centres, educators consistently took an active participatory role rather than a passive role. This study highlights the importance of educator intentional teaching practices in relation to physical activity for pre-schoolers physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2032-2040
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Intentionality
  • early childhood education and care
  • physical activity
  • pre-schoolers

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