The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a 30-week fundamental motor skill program in typically developing young children and to investigate possible sex differences. DESIGN: A multicenter quasi experimental design was set up for this study which involved 992 children aged 3-8 years. METHODS: All participants received their typical Physical Education curriculum and habitual movement activities. The intervention group (n=523; 53.5% boys) received a weekly 60-min motor skill session provided by trained local instructors in existing child settings; the control group (n=469; 49.7% boys) received no additional practice. Fundamental motor skills were assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd Edition before and after the intervention. To assess the effect of the intervention and possible sex differences, hierarchical linear regressions analyses were conducted for locomotor and object control gain scores. RESULTS: The intervention group demonstrated a higher gain in both locomotor (β=3.78, SE=1.08, p<0.001) and object control (β=4.46, SE=1.06, p<0.001) skills than the control group. Girls demonstrated a lower gain in object control skills (β=-3.50, SE=0.49, p<0.001) and higher gain in locomotor skills (β=1.01, SE=0.44, p=0.022) than boys, regardless of group. CONCLUSIONS: The present study demonstrated the effectiveness of a wide-scale community-based intervention in typically developing children. The sex differences reported may indicate the need to use different pedagogical and instructional strategies to enable boys and girls to develop and master a wide range of motor skills.
- Early intervention, Exercise, Health, Locomotor skills, Object control skills, Sex