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Fundamental Movement Skills and Academic Performance of 5- to 6-Year-Old Preschoolers

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Abstract

Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are foundational and therefore play an important role in the overall development, sport-specific skills, and academic achievement of children. The aim of the study was to determine if a correlation exists between FMS and the academic performance of 5- to 6-year-old preschoolers. An empirical study including one pre-primary school in Bloemfontein, South Africa, was conducted. Five- to six-year-old learners (N = 69) with an average age of 6.10 years (± 0.37) were assessed with the Kinderkinetics Screening Assessment to determine their FMS abilities. Academic reports, provided by the school, were used to analyse academic performance within three academic learning areas. Statistical analysis (SAS version 9.2.) included descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation analyses and associated p values (≤ .05), while the following correlation coefficient cut-off values were used: r ≈ .1 (small), r ≈ .3 (moderate) and r ≥ .5 (large). The results indicated that static and dynamic balancing skills correlated with all three learning areas; these correlations were moderate to large and also statistically significant. Furthermore, it became evident that gliding, skipping and star jumps correlated especially with mathematics, as well as with Home Language and Life Orientation. Of all the learning areas included, Mathematics revealed the most and largest significant correlations with FMS in general. In conclusion, FMS, especially dynamic and static balance skills, of 5- to 6-year-old preschoolers correlate significantly with their academic performance. Children in the fundamental movement stage should be exposed to activities including balancing, vestibular stimulation, bilateral integration, rhythm and spatial orientation.

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Acknowledgements

Sincere thanks are expressed towards the 2017 and 2018 Kinderkinetics honours students at the University of the Free State for the assistance they provided with the collection and capturing of data. The author would also like to thank Ms. M. Esterhuyse for language editing done.

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Correspondence to Elna de Waal.

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de Waal, E. Fundamental Movement Skills and Academic Performance of 5- to 6-Year-Old Preschoolers. Early Childhood Educ J 47, 455–464 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-019-00936-6

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