Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 201–211 | Cite as

The Synergistic Effect of Teaching a Combined Explicit Movement and Phonological Awareness Program to Preschool Aged Students



While movement is critical to young children’s development, there is an ongoing debate about the time devoted to teaching movement in early childhood classrooms. Nevertheless, research has established a link between specific precursor motor skills and early literacy development. This study investigated the synergistic effect of practising specific movements through daily actions and songs alongside the explicit teaching of phonological awareness and phonics in 400 preschool children (aged between four and five). Results indicate that students who received the combined intervention of explicit phonological awareness and movement were the only group to perform significantly better than the control group on measures of phonological awareness, invented spelling and spelling. An interesting outcome was that the literacy/movement group and not the movement group made significantly larger gains for the movement measure. These findings suggest that teaching pre-primary aged children early literacy and movement in tandem is more beneficial than teaching either in isolation.


Early childhood Movement Phonological awareness Phonics Spelling 



Ethics was granted by the office of Research Ethics at Edith Cowan University Project Number 6371. This research was funded by a Faculty Grant from the Faculty of Education and Arts, Edith Cowan University.


  1. Adcock, S. G., & Patton, M. M. (2001). Views of effective early childhood educators regarding systemic constraints that affect their teaching. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 15(2), 194–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, P., & Bennett, K. (2008). SPSS for the health and behavioral sciences. South Melbourne, VIC: Thomson.Google Scholar
  3. Allison, H., Barnett, T., & Savina, E. (2007). Literacy and sensory-motor difficulties. Teacher, 186, 48–53.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2012). Australian Curriculum: English: Version 3.0. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/Curriculum/F-10.
  5. Ayres, A. J. (1972). Sensory integration and learning disorders. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  6. Bailey, R., Armour, K., Kirk, D., Jess, M., Pickup, I., & Sandford, R. (2009). The educational benefits claimed for physical education and school sport: an academic review. Research Papers in Education, 24(1), 1–27. doi: 10.1037/a0030210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berg, K. (2010). Justifying physical education based on neuroscience evidence. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 81(3), 24–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bobath, B. (1963). Neurodevelopmental treatment of cerebral palsy. Physiotherapy, 49, 242–244.Google Scholar
  9. Bobath, B., & Bobath, K. (1975). Motor development in the different types of cerebral palsy. London: William Heinamann Medical Books Limited.Google Scholar
  10. Brain Gym. (2006). About brain gym. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from http://www.braingym.org/about.html.
  11. Callcott, D., Miller, J., & Wilson-Gahan, S. (2012). Health and physical education. Preparing educators for the future. Melbourne: Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carnine, D., Silbert, J., & Kameenui, E. J. (1990). Direct instruction reading (2nd ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill.Google Scholar
  13. Cech, D., & Martin, S. (1995). Functional movement development across the lifespan. Pennsylvania: W.B. Saunders Co.Google Scholar
  14. Collins, L. (2005). I had to sell my yacht and spend millions to find a cure for my daughter’s dyslexia. Do I regret it? Not for a moment….after all it saved her life. The Mail on Sunday, p. 36.Google Scholar
  15. Coltheart, M., & McArthur, G. (2012). Neuroscience, education and educational efficacy research. In S. Della Sala & M. Anderson (Eds.), Neuroscience in education: The good, the bad, and the ugly (pp. 215–221). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Delacato, C. H. (1963). The diagnosis and treatment of speech and reading problems. Springfield, IL: Thomas.Google Scholar
  17. Deli, E., Bakle, I., & Zachopoulou, E. (2006). Implementing intervention movement programs for kindergarten children. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 4(5). Retrieved from http://ecr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/4/1/5. doi: 10.1177/1476718X06059785.
  18. Diamond, A. (2000). Close interrelation of motor developments and cognitive developments and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex [Electronic version]. Child Development, 71, 44–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dimitrov, D. M., & Rumrill, P. (2003). Pretest-postest designs and measurement of change. Work: A Journal of Prevention Assessment and Rehabilitation, 20(2), 159–165.Google Scholar
  20. Dollman, J., Boshoff, K., & Dodd, G. (2006). The relationship between curriculum time for physical education and literacy and numeracy standards in South Australian primary schools. European Physical Education Review, (12), 151–163. Retrieved from http://epe.sagepub.com/content/12/2/151. doi: 10.1177/1366336X06065171.
  21. Dore, W. (2006). Dyslexia: The miracle cure. London: John Blake.Google Scholar
  22. Emmel, J., & Penney, D. (2010). State of play. Teacher, 208, 32–37.Google Scholar
  23. Engleman, S., & Carnine, D. (1991). Theory of instruction: Principles and applications. New York: Irvington.Google Scholar
  24. Field, A. (2005). Discovering statistics using SPSS for Windows (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Formentin, P. J. (1992). Let’s decode inservice manual. Perth, Western Australia: Edith Cowan University Bookshop.Google Scholar
  26. Formentin, P. J., & Hammond, L. S. (1997). Prevention of reading disabilities and the role of systematic decoding instruction. Australasian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 14(2), 14–28.Google Scholar
  27. Formentin, P. J., Summers, R. L., & Crawford, P. M. (1994). Effective use of systematic decoding instruction with whole language programmes. In P. C. Long (Ed.), Quality outcomes for learners: Selected papers from the Australian Association of Special Education Inc. Conference Melbourne 1993. Parkerville, VIC: University of Melbourne Press.Google Scholar
  28. Gabbard, C. (2000). Physical education: Should it be the core curriculum? Principal. Retrieved from http://www.naesp.org/comm/polooc.htm.
  29. Gabbard, C. (2012). Lifelong motor development (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Google Scholar
  30. Gallahue, D. L., & Ozmun, J. C. (2006). Understanding motor development (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  31. Hall, H. (2007). Expert defends dyslexia ‘cure’. The Sun-Herald, p. 27.Google Scholar
  32. Hammill, D. D. (2004). What we know about the correlates of reading. Exceptional Children, 70, 453–469.Google Scholar
  33. Hand, D. J. (1994). Deconstructing statistical questions. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A (Statistics in Society), 157(3), 317–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hardy, L., King, L., Farrell, L., Macniven, R., & Howlett, S. (2010). Fundamental movement skills among Australian preschool children. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13(5), 503–508. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2009.05.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Henderson, S., Sugden, D., & Barnett, A. (2007). Movement Assessment Battery for Children - 2. London: Pearson Assessment.Google Scholar
  36. Hulme, C., Bowyer-Crane, C., Carroll, J. M., Duff, F. J., & Snowling, M. J. (2012). The causal role of phonemee awareness and letter-sound knowledge in learning to read combining intervention studies with mediation analyses. Psychological Science, 23(6), 572–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hyatt, K. (2007). Brain gym: Building stronger brains or wishful thinking. Remedial and Special Education, 28(2), 117–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jones, T., & Greenough, W. (1996). Ultrastructural evidence for increased contact between astrocytes and synapses in rats reared in a complex environment. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 65(1), 48–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kaplan, B. J., Polatajko, H. J., Wilson, B. N., & Faris, P. D. (1993). Reexamination of sensory integration treatment: A combination of two efficiacy studies. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 26(5), 342–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kavale, K., & Mattson, P. D. (1983). One jumped off the balance beam:Meta-analysis of perceptual motor training. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 16(3), 165–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Knapp, T. R., & Schafer, W. D. (2009). From gain score t to ANCOVA F (and vice versa). Practical Assessment Research and Evaluation, 14(6), 1–7.Google Scholar
  42. Koziol, L. F., Budding, D. E., & Chidekel, D. (2012). From movement to thought:Executive function, embodied cognition, and the cerebellum. Cerebellum, 11, 505–525. doi: 10.1007/s12311-011-0321-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Maxwell, S. E., & Delaney, H. D. (1990). Designing experiments and analyzing data: A model comparison perspective. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  44. McGarrigle, J., & Nelson, A. (2006). Evaluating a school skills programme for Australian Indigenous children: A pilot study. Occupational Therapy International, 13(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Moats, L. C. (2005). How spelling supports reading. American Educator, 6(12–22), 42–43.Google Scholar
  46. Morgan, P. J., & Hansen, V. (2007). Recommendations to improve primary school physical education: Classroom teachers’ perspective. The Journal of Educational Research, 101(2), 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. National Institute for Literacy (NIFL). (2008). Developing early literacy. Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. A scientific synthesis of early literacy development and implications for reading instruction. Retrieved from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/upload/NELPReport09.pdf.
  48. National Reading Panel (NRP). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute for Child Health and Development.Google Scholar
  49. Pica, R. (2010). Experiences in movement and music (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  50. Piek, J. P. (2006). Infant motor development. Lower Mitcham, South Australia: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  51. Piek, J. P., Dawson, L., Smith, L., & Gasson, N. (2008). The role of early fine and gross motor development on later motor and cognitive ability. Human Movement Science, 27, 668–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Robinson, L. E., Webster, E. K., Logan, S. W., Lucas, W. A., & Barber, L. T. (2012). Teaching practices that promote motor skills in early childhood settings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(2), 79–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rose, J. (2006). Independent review of the teaching of early reading. London: Department for Education and Skills.Google Scholar
  54. Ruiz, L., Graupera, J., Gutierrez, M., & Miyahara, M. (2003). The assessment of motor coordination in children with the Movement ABC test: A comparative study among Japan, USA and Spain. International Journal of Applied Sport Sciences, 15(1), 22–35.Google Scholar
  55. Sattelmair, J., & Ratey, J. J. (2009). Physically active play and cognition. An academic matter? American Journal of Play, 7(3), 365–374.Google Scholar
  56. Smart Start with PMP. (2002). Retrieved September 26, 2007, from http://smartstarters.com.au/.
  57. Stephenson, J., & Wheldall, K. (2008). Miracles take a little longer: science, commercialisation, cures and the Dore program. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 67–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Torgesen, J. K. (1994). Test of phonological awareness. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  59. Treiman, R. (2006). Knowledge about letters as a foundation for reading and spelling. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy. Mahwah, NJ: Eribaum.Google Scholar
  60. Woods, R. (2003). Doubts on 1500 pound dyslexia treatment, The Sunday Times, p. 10.Google Scholar
  61. Wright, D. B. (2003). Making friends with your data: Improving how statistics are conducted and reported. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wright, D. B. (2006). Comparing groups in a before-after design: When t test and ANCOVA produce different results. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(3), 663–675. doi: 10.1348/000709905X52210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Callcott
    • 1
  • Lorraine Hammond
    • 1
  • Susan Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Edith Cowan UniversityMt Lawley, PerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations