The effects of the PLAYTOD program on children’s physical activity at preschool playgrounds in a deprived urban area (2020)
a randomized controlled trial
Interventions to improve children’s physical activity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings are needed. This randomized controlled trial examines the effects of a preschool-based playground program for ECEC teachers in a deprived urban area. On intervention preschools, the PLAYgrounds for TODdlers program (PLAYTOD) was performed. It focused on teacher’s knowledge and skills in order to create a challenging outdoor environment in which young children (2.5 to 4 years old) are able to practice their motor skills. Observations were performed before and after the program with a modified version of the SOPLAY protocol. The activating role of teachers (score from 0 = inactive to 4 = participating), the number of different physical activities, and the quality of children’s physical activity on playgrounds were observed. The latter included the number of performed fundamental movement skills and the estimated physical activity intensity (score from 0 = sedentary to 3 = vigorous). Descriptive statistics and linear regression analyses were used to evaluate the effects of PLAYTOD. After the program, the activating role of teachers on intervention playgrounds improved. Moreover, the program and consecutively the changes made by teachers had a positive effect on the number of different activities and the quality of children’s physical activity. The results emphasize an important role for ECEC teachers in improving physical activity in young children.