A survey of the scientific literature shows that there is a large consensus in the scientific and education communities on the beneficial effects of physical activity on health; accordingly, recommendations on levels and types of activities to be performed by children and adults have been published by scientific associations and international organizations (WHO, NASPE, AAP, HAH). Good health is a fundamental right of children important for both well being and for school success; good health is also important for development of executive functions, which also contribute to well being and school readiness. Despite this correlation, the relationship between motor and cognitive development in children has not been extensively studied, also because the methodological difficulties occurring when the focus are rapidly developing human beings of age ranging from 3 to 6 years. Note that most of the studies addressing physical and cognitive competences in this population of children are based on parent's reports and interviews and that methods for objective and reliable quantitative and qualitative data acquisition have only recently been introduced. In addition, the classical view that children "mature by themselves" and that acquisition of skills depends on chronological age rather that experience, environment and cultural context is still very popular among parents and educators as well as among some components of the scientific community. On the other hand a new era on the science of development is approaching. Recent data from neuroscientific studies suggest a positive association between physical activity, physical fitness, executive functions and academic performance. In the international congress of Seattle (2013) on Child Development data were presented showing that the practice of physical activity can promote development of executive functions and school success in children; in line with these suggestions, new data were recently published (Verburgh, 2014) and more are now expected to appear. The ICSSPE (International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education) has organized a "by invitation only" symposium held in Berlin in September 2014 where a task of world experts of science, education, business and politics was asked to discuss on the scientific and practical aspects of promoting cognitive development with physical activity. In those two days of "brain storming", we concluded on the need of interdisciplinary approaches to promote both the growth of scientific knowledge and the identification and implementation of specific programs to develop school readiness in children. In that meeting some important different points of view by different cultural contexts also emerged, confirming that an ecological perspective is necessary to understand and promote motor and cognitive development. In this thesis I investigate the possible association between physical activity, physical fitness, executive functions and school achievement. In the first section I discuss the theoretical framework of development by reviewing past and recent theories of child development. In the second section I review the methodological aspects of my approach to the study of 3-6 years old children for acquiring both qualitative and quantitative information on their development. In the third section I present the data and the studies that I have performed during my PhD course addressing three basic questions: a) What is the role of the environment in developing physical activity in preschool children?” b) “How may we develop motor skills in children?” c) If and how may we develop cognitive processes by means of physical activity?". The last sections summarises and draws the conclusions of my studies that highlight the role of the environment (physical and cultural) in child physical development and proposes new approaches to physical education that may contribute to cognitive development and school readiness in preschool children

Physical activity in development of motor skills and cognitive processes in preschool children: consequences in school readiness.

Patrizia Tortella
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
2015-01-01

Abstract

A survey of the scientific literature shows that there is a large consensus in the scientific and education communities on the beneficial effects of physical activity on health; accordingly, recommendations on levels and types of activities to be performed by children and adults have been published by scientific associations and international organizations (WHO, NASPE, AAP, HAH). Good health is a fundamental right of children important for both well being and for school success; good health is also important for development of executive functions, which also contribute to well being and school readiness. Despite this correlation, the relationship between motor and cognitive development in children has not been extensively studied, also because the methodological difficulties occurring when the focus are rapidly developing human beings of age ranging from 3 to 6 years. Note that most of the studies addressing physical and cognitive competences in this population of children are based on parent's reports and interviews and that methods for objective and reliable quantitative and qualitative data acquisition have only recently been introduced. In addition, the classical view that children "mature by themselves" and that acquisition of skills depends on chronological age rather that experience, environment and cultural context is still very popular among parents and educators as well as among some components of the scientific community. On the other hand a new era on the science of development is approaching. Recent data from neuroscientific studies suggest a positive association between physical activity, physical fitness, executive functions and academic performance. In the international congress of Seattle (2013) on Child Development data were presented showing that the practice of physical activity can promote development of executive functions and school success in children; in line with these suggestions, new data were recently published (Verburgh, 2014) and more are now expected to appear. The ICSSPE (International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education) has organized a "by invitation only" symposium held in Berlin in September 2014 where a task of world experts of science, education, business and politics was asked to discuss on the scientific and practical aspects of promoting cognitive development with physical activity. In those two days of "brain storming", we concluded on the need of interdisciplinary approaches to promote both the growth of scientific knowledge and the identification and implementation of specific programs to develop school readiness in children. In that meeting some important different points of view by different cultural contexts also emerged, confirming that an ecological perspective is necessary to understand and promote motor and cognitive development. In this thesis I investigate the possible association between physical activity, physical fitness, executive functions and school achievement. In the first section I discuss the theoretical framework of development by reviewing past and recent theories of child development. In the second section I review the methodological aspects of my approach to the study of 3-6 years old children for acquiring both qualitative and quantitative information on their development. In the third section I present the data and the studies that I have performed during my PhD course addressing three basic questions: a) What is the role of the environment in developing physical activity in preschool children?” b) “How may we develop motor skills in children?” c) If and how may we develop cognitive processes by means of physical activity?". The last sections summarises and draws the conclusions of my studies that highlight the role of the environment (physical and cultural) in child physical development and proposes new approaches to physical education that may contribute to cognitive development and school readiness in preschool children
physical activity, executive functions, kindergarten, motor development
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/999496
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