The targeted continent and/or country driven promotion of physical activity and health from an early age onwards requires more insight into cross-cultural differences in motor competence. Using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition Short Form (BOT-2 SF), this study assessed and compared both fine and gross motor skill performances of 5- and 6-year-old children from Belgium (n = 325) and Greece (n = 245). Linear mixed effect models and a χ 2 test analyzed between-country differences in BOT-2 SF scores and the distribution across descriptive performance categories. Overall, Belgian and Greek participants displayed quite similar levels of motor competence, with fewer children performing (well-)below average than could be expected. On test item level, however, several significant differences emerged. Large effect sizes were found for knee push-ups (Hedges' g = 1.46) and copying a square (Hedges' g = 2.59), which demonstrated a better outcome for Belgian and Greek preschoolers, respectively. These findings might be attributed to different (physical) education practices in both European countries. The present study also highlights the importance of using an assessment tool covering the entire range of motor skills as well as a focusing primarily on raw performance scores, containing and explaining more variance, for international comparative research purposes.
- early childhood
- motor skill assessment
- Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency
- international comparison
- cultural background