EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE

Short communication

Volume 2, No. 1, 2010, 67-75

UDC 796.012.1/.2-053.4

EXAMINATION OF MOTOR SKILLS IN

KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN

Josip Lepeö^{*}

Hungarian Language Teacher Training Faculty in Subotica

University of Novi Sad

Abstract

The purpose of the research was to study 680 children - 370 boys and 310 girls of to 5-7

year age, they were examined concerning their motor skill. It was found that physical

advancement of children reaches, or more exactly exceeds the home references by 50 percent.

Their physical advancement is a good base for the physical performances. Evaluated the motor

skill of children it was found that in this age interval the girls are better in balancing compared to

the boys. The growth rate of girls is also higher than that of the boys. These results are

interpreted as characteristics of motion development at the end of the small child age. Uniform

development rate was observed in running with evasion and in the two tests elaborated by our

group, the boomerang running and the obstacle course. Reliability and validity of both tests were

qualified excellent expect for one case. They are both recommended for practical use.

Keywords: motor skill, kindergarten, children

Introduction

In the recent years the motor skill as well as its changes and components have been

studied in 410 kindergarten age children (Lepeö &Raji„, 2007). As a result of this study it was

found that the physical power of kindergarten age children is determined not only by conditional

capacities which support the power but mainly the level of basic forms of motion or the ability to

perform motions. Based on these studies it was supposed that in kindergarten age the differences

in physical power can bee explained by the differences of skill ability. Following this

observation it was decided to study the motor skills of the given age group or more exactly to try

out two different tests which are utilizable for complete evaluation of this feature of children.

The present study demonstrates the results of the above-mentioned examination.

ätrosmajerova 11, e-mail: lepes@tippnet.rs

© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

67

J. Lepes

Method

During the academic year 2007/2008, 680 children - 370 boys and 310 girls were

examined. The age end sex distribution of the participants as well as the average age of different

age groups are given in.

Table 1

Age and sex distribution of sample (the average age of the given age group is shown in brackets)

Age

Boys

Girls

Total

Five-year-olds

145 (5.09)

98 (5.08)

243

Six-year-olds

120 (6.06)

129 (6.05)

249

Seven-year-olds

105 (6.49)

83 (6.49)

188

Total

370

310

680

The methods of examinations can be divided into two groups: the examinations of

body dimensions and the tests of physical power. Two body dimensions, i.e. the height and body

mass were measured according to the standards of anthropometry. By collecting these data our

aim was to determine the body development of children such as a background variable which

may influence the physical power. The motor skills were assessed by four tests. Two of them

were Fleischmanís running with evasion test and Standing on one foot test which were used as

standard tests while the over two tests, the Boomerang running test and the Obstacle course test,

were our own developed tests.

Boomerang running; A quadrangle area (100 x

150 cm) was drown, with the corners and the centre

marked. At each corner of the area a medicine ball was

placed. To four directions from the centre through the

midpoint of the sidelines, at 200 cm, suitable objects were

placed. The exercise was the following: children ran from

the medicine ball to the object located at 200 cm distance,

and going around it they proceeded towards the direction

of the next medicine ball. Approaching it they started

crawling (hands and feet on the floor), went around it, then

stood up and started going towards the next ball. Each

medicine ball and each object at 2 m distance had to be

gone around. The test was finished when the children

returned and crossed the starting line in a crawling

position, having gone around the 4 medicine balls. Time was measured to 0.1 s accuracy. The

children completed the course twice in the same order. The results of both trials were recorded.

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Examination of motor skills in kindergarten children

Figure 2 Obstacle course

Obstacle course.

The

following course was built: Five

medicine balls were set up at 1.5 m

from the starting line, and et each 1 m

from that. A 50 cm high obstacle was

set up at 1 m from the last medicine

ball, then place on a small table. One 40

cm high obstacle was also positioned in

line with the one on the other side, At

2.5 m distance from this obstacle two

balls were placed

2 meters far from

each other. The imaginary line

connecting the two balls was at the

right angle to the direction of the

progress. Another obstacle mat was

placed proportionally on the remaining

distance, in one line with the starting line. The completion of the obstacle course was as

following: after the starting signal was given, children ran between the medicine balls with

slalom, then passed under the first obstacle. Then they turned and jumped onto the small table,

crawled along the surface, then turned round and jumped off on the other end. Having made a

turn, they stepped over the second obstacle, and slid along in a sitting position up to the line of

the balls. They stood up, changed the two balls and rolled along the mat to its other side. Only

one trial before testing was allowed. The examiner explained the next part of the test during the

execution. The time was measured to 0.1 s accuracy. The children had to pass the course twice

and both of them were recorded.

The basic statistical data; the mean, standard deviation, variation coefficient as well as

minimum and maximum values were calculated after checking the accuracy of data. The

correlation between the analysed parameters were calculated and a factor analysis was carried

out. From the latter one only the weight factor was used to characterize the validity of new tests.

In verification of new tests it is fundamental to analyse these two characteristics. Reliability

means that the test gives the consistent results each time it is repeated. Validity refers to degree

to wich the test accurately measures what it was designed to measure. Both are considered good

if the correlation coefficient is higher than 0.8 while the value higher than 0.85 means excellent

metric characteristics. For reliability the method of tests and retest was applied.

Table 2

Reliability and validity of Boomerang running and Obstacle course tests

Boomerang running

Obstacle course

Boys

Girls

Boys

Girls

Age Reliability

Validity

Reliability

Validity

Reliability

Validity Reliability Validity

5 yrs

.886

.931

.947

.931

.869

.937

.941

.937

6 yrs

.948

.977

.883

.951

.958

.993

.911

.981

7 yrs

.960

.971

.817

.888

.942

.979

.928

.934

69

J. Lepes

It can be stated that reliability and validity values are excellent in both tests, in all age

groups, in boys and girls. Thus these tests are suggested for assessment of motor skills of

kindergarten age children.

Results

The body growth related to the assessments of motor skill was analyzed by the

comparison of height and body mass to the standard values. As a result of the comparison it is

possible to evaluate the motor power referring to different levels of somatic condition and

development. Finally it could be examined if the somatic and motor development are parallel to

each other. However for this purpose it necessary to get the standard values of motor power. The

statistical data of participantís height are shown in Table 3.

Table 3

Height of participants: descriptive statistics

Age

M

sx

SD

Min

Max

KV

Boys

5-year-olds

112,42

0,41

6,02

94,6

128,56

5,29

6-year-olds

117,89

0,32

5,75

101,0

134,40

4,89

7-year-olds

121,0

0,36

5,49

107,0

137,0

4,51

Girls

5-year-olds

111,21

0,40

6,02

97,22

136,25

5,40

6-year-olds

116,98

0,34

6,05

99,2

135,0

5,15

7-year-olds

121,68

0,40

5,80

101,0

138,2

4,69

M ñ Mean; sx - Mean Standard Error; SD ñ Standard Deviation; Min ñ Minimal Value; Max ñ

Maximal Value; KV ñ Koefficient of Variability

The body mass is more sensitive to the influence of environment, e.g. the nutrition,

way of life and regular exercise, than the height. Therefore its variability is also higher (see the

dispersion and the variation coefficient) than that of height. The minimum and maximum values

also refer to the fact that in the samples there are both underweight and overweight children. It is

well known that the bigger body mass, i.e. the adiposis is disadvantageous from point of view of

efficiacy in some motor tasks. Thus the bigger variability of body mass may cause variations of

the motor power. The statistical data of body mass are shown in Table 4.

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Examination of motor skills in kindergarten children

Table 4

Body mass of participants: descriptive statistics

Age

M

sx

SD

Min

Max

KV

Boys

5-year-olds

20,01

0,22

3,23

12,4

30,8

16,17

6-year-olds

22,09

0,21

3,64

13,3

39,2

16,60

7-year-olds

23,01

0,25

3,79

13,0

45,3

16,80

Girls

5-year-olds

19,29

0,23

3,41

12,3

34,0

18,01

6-year-olds

21,61

0,23

4,09

13,0

44,9

19,01

7-year-olds

23,01

0,28

4,04

12,4

41,0

17,51

M ñ Mean; sx - Mean Standard Error; SD ñ Standard Deviation; Min ñ Minimal Value; Max ñ

Maximal Value; KV ñ Koefficient of Variability

If five to six years age grouop, the average height of boys is bigger than that of girls, as

it was found in body mass as well. In seven years age group, there is no difference in body mass

between sexes. Finally it can be concluded that the examined children have been in good state of

bodily development thus is could not be a limiting factor from point of view of physical power.

As it was mentioned in the mehod section, the motor skills of children was studied by four motor

tests. The balancing and running with evasion tests are well-known. The later requires the ability

of good sense of locality and the ability for reorganization of motion. The so-called boomerang

running developed by our team for usage in the kindergarten milieu is similar to it. It has been

found that all types of coordination abilities contributed in accomplishment of the obstacle

course.

71

J. Lepes

Balancing. The statistical data of tests are shown in Table 5.

Table 5

Balancing: descriptive statistics

Age

M

sx

SD

Min

Max

KV

Boys

5-year-olds

30,11

0,92

13,39

10,0

59,0

43,66

6-year-olds

32,76

0,88

15,74

10,0

60,0

48,12

7-year-olds

35,29

1,11

16,80

12,0

60,0

47,58

Girls

5-year-olds

30,09

0,92

14,12

10,0

60,0

46,88

6-year-olds

34,33

0,83

15,36

10,0

60,0

44,72

7-year-olds

36,49

1,10

16,37

10,0

60,0

44,84

M ñ Mean; sx - Mean Standard Error; SD ñ Standard Deviation; Min ñ Minimal Value; Max ñ

Maximal Value; KV ñ Koefficient of Variability

Significant relative dispersion observed in both groups, i.e. boys and girls, indicates

that samples are highly variable. The balancing power improves continuously between the age of

five and seven. The better balancing capacity of girls compared to that of boys near the end of

the young child age may be interpreted as a peculiarity of development of motion in girlsí group,

of course with a very wide range of variability.

Running with evasion. The statistical data are shown in Table 6.

Table 6

Running with evasion: descriptive statistics

Age

M

sx

SD

Min

Max

KV

Boys

5-year-olds

33,29

0,50

7,55

17,7

59,0

22,13

6-year-olds

31,11

0,40

7,02

15,1

57,0

22,55

7-year-olds

28,34

0,52

7,72

12,0

55,7

27,28

Girls

5-year-olds

34,04

0,51

7,69

16,1

57,5

22,60

6-year-olds

31,54

0,42

7,62

11,0

63,9

24,21

7-year-olds

29,71

0,51

7,49

12,4

55,9

25,21

M ñ Mean; sx - Mean Standard Error; SD ñ Standard Deviation; Min ñ Minimal Value; Max ñ

Maximal Value; KV ñ Koefficient of Variability

72

Examination of motor skills in kindergarten children

It was found that the average power in relation to to the different ages improved

continuously. The total development of boys during the two years was bigger than that of girls.

The results of boys were higher in the Kanjiûa kindergarten as well.

Boomerang running. The statistical data show an improvement of 3.2 s in boys and

2.51 s in girls between the age of 5 and 7 years.

Table 7

Boomerang running

Age

M

sx

SD

Min

Max

KV

Boys

5-year-olds

25,58

0,47

6,58

12,8

49,0

26,58

6-year-olds

24,66

0,42

7,59

10,7

58,0

30,50

7-year-olds

22,45

0,46

6,87

13,1

60,0

30,79

Girls

5-year-olds

25,88

0,48

7,29

10,6

53,0

28,30

6-year-olds

24,71

0,36

6,94

10,2

50,0

27,02

7-year-olds

23,32

0,44

6,70

14,2

48,0

28,71

M ñ Mean; sx - Mean Standard Error; SD ñ Standard Deviation; Min ñ Minimal Value; Max ñ

Maximal Value; KV ñ Koefficient of Variability

The difference between the extreme values and the relative dispersion resulting from it,

are bigger than values found in running with evasion. It allows the conclusion that this test is

more complicated for this age group than running with evasion. In both sexes the relative

dispersion in 7 years age was bigger than in the previous ages. This finding suggests that the

dimension of the test-field should be modified because of the height increase in the period

between the 5 and 7 years age, as in our examinations this height increase was 8.5 cm in boys

9.85 cm in girls. It is supposed that evasion of objects which are close to each other is more

difficult for taller children especially when they have to go round the objects on their hand and

knees.

73

J. Lepes

Obstacle course. The statistical data shown in Table 8.

Table 8

Obstacle course: descriptive statistics

Age

M

sx

SD

Min

Max

KV

Boys

5-year-olds

32,7

1,24

7,41

23,1

51,4

22,49

6-year-olds

28,51

0,82

6,59

15,2

50,1

23,10

7-year-olds

26,90

1,16

6,41

14,98

41,9

23,80

Girls

5-year-olds

31,71

1,36

9,8

19,7

58,7

26,79

6-year-olds

29,80

0,97

7,55

18,5

56,8

25,39

7-year-olds

27,01

0,99

5,34

17,0

40,1

19,79

M ñ Mean; sx - Mean Standard Error; SD ñ Standard Deviation; Min ñ Minimal Value; Max ñ

Maximal Value; KV ñ Koefficient of Variability

The changes of mean values across different age groups are uniform, however the

improvement is higher between the age 5 and 6 years and lower between the age of 6 and 7.

Boys show better performance in every age group but the total increase is bigger than in girlsí

group. Although the relative dispersion is acceptable, the extreme values demonstrate that there

are very agile and very clumsy children in the sample as well.

Discussion

The height and body mass of children were measured for the assessment of bodily

development. When comparing obtained data to the Vojvodina reference values, it was found

that average values of boys does not reach 75% while in the other age groups it is bigger. The

average values of girls at the age of 6 and 7 are higher than 50%, and the means of other age

groups are higher than 75% which is a favorable base for the motor performance. The motor

tests examined the developmental state of coordination abilities. It was concluded that in the

transition period between the nursery and the school, besides the average values of motor

performance, the knowledge of basic development of skills connected to the fundamental forms

of motion are also important. Analysis of age-dependent differences based on the motor

performances shows that the sensitive period of motor development is the period between the

age 6-7 years. It occurs not by chance but as a result of systematic factors influencing the

development. Based on the results it can be pointed out that the transition period between the

nursery and the school is a very sensitive and crucial period from point of view of motor

development. This period may determine the acquirement of different types of motor skills

needed in the different branches of sport in later ages.

74

Examination of motor skills in kindergarten children

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Submitted May 20, 2010

Accepted June 25, 2010

75