Balance Skill status of four to six year old pre-school children

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)



Cools, W. (MSc)1; De Martelaer, K. (PhD)1; Samaey, C.(MSc)1; Andries, C. (PhD)2

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium
¹ Department of movement education and sport training, Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy (LK/BETR)
² Department of Developmental and Lifespan Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education

Pre-school age is recognized as the most appropriate period for the development of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) [1]. This motor developmental phase is essential because basic foundations are laid for proper daily functioning and lifelong physical activity participation. Currently, there is evidence that a large number of young children do not meet daily recommended amounts of physical activity (PA) [2]. Consequently this reduced time spent in physically activities has an impact on the development of FMS. Therefore, the aim of this study was to chart balance skill development among four to six year-old pre-school children in Flanders.

A clustered sample of Flemish pre-school children (N= 1208, n boys= 654, n girls=554) was assessed on their FMS development with the Motoriktest für Vier- bis Sechsjärige Kinder [MOT 4-6] [3]. The test features 18 test items including fine and gross motor movement skill items. Informed consent was obtained from the school team, parents and children. The pre-school children were between four and six years of age (M=5.18 years, ± 0.61). Due to the scope of this study twenty two test administrators were involved in data collection. Prior to the test administrations they received a standardized training. Data were used to describe the developmental status of balance skills among Flemish pre-school children on item level.

In table 1 the % of children that reached advanced balance skill levels is presented. The results show that the mastery of balance skills increases with age and that difference between girls and boys is present.

4 - 4 ½ 4 ½ -5 5 - 5 ½ 5 ½ - 6 6 - 6 ½
Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls
Forward balance 29,2 41,5 37,7 47,9 42,1 60,0 55,3 75,0 58,3 80,0
Reverse balance 0,0 9,6 2,0 2,9 2,6 5,2 5,3 8,6 8,3 20,0
Jumping in a hoop on 1 foot ,Standing on 1 leg 2,7 8,5 6,0 12,1 25,0 31,0 36,5 50,0 26,7 45,7
Stand up holding a ball on the head 9,7 21,3 9,3 17,9 21,7 25,2 29,4 35,9 38,3 51,4
Jump and turn in a hoop 34,5 27,7 40,4 32,9 44,7 50,3 58,2 61,7 56,7 77,1

Table 1: % of pre-school children that master the movement skill task

Balance skills are mastered well in static situations and at the age of six most pre-school children have reached an advanced level of balance skills. However, there is a large number of pre-school children that has not reached full mastery level of the skills at the age of six. When the task becomes more dynamic, there is a sudden decrease in ability to maintain balance (e.g. losing visual control in backward balance skill and regaining stability on one leg after jumping forward).
Already a large number of pre-school children in Flanders have several shortcomings in mastering balance skill tasks appropriate for their age. When planning and implementing interventions which focus on lifelong PA and health, it is strongly recommended taking into consideration the creation of opportunities to develop FMS.

[1] Gallahue, D. L., & Ozmun, J. C. (2006). Understanding Motor Development. Infants, Children, Adolescents, Adults (Sixth Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill.
[2] Cardon, G., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2007). Comparison of pedometer and accelerometer measures of physical activity in preschool children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 19(2), 205-214
[3] Zimmer, R., & Volkamer, M. (1987). Motoriktest für vier- bis sechsjärige Kinder (manual). Weinheim: Betltztest
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFirst International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement
EditorsJ.b.j. Bussmann, H.l.d. Horemans, H.l.p. Hurkmans
PublisherDept. of Rehabilitation Medicine Erasmus MC
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)978-90-813154-1-8
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2008
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Publication series

NameConference Book


ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet

Bibliographical note

J.B.J. Bussmann, H.L.D. Horemans, H.L.P. Hurkmans


  • balance
  • movement
  • Movement skill assessment
  • MOT 4-6
  • pre-school children
  • motor competence


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