Beyond the Obstacle Course: Developing movement skills in young children

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Early Childhood Research Association


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre




Sanders, L., & Sims, M. (2003). Beyond the obstacle course: Developing movement skills in young children. Australian Research in Early Childhood Education, 10(2), 58-69.


Play is recognised as the medium for young children to learn about their bodies and its movement capabilities. However, recent criticism suggests that the structure of outdoor play, and the philosophical frameworks guiding early childhood physical activity programs, do not adequately develop fundamental movement skills (FMS) in all children (Cullen, 1993;Walkley, Holland, Treloar, & Probyn-Smith, 1993). The purpose of this paper is to report preliminary findings of an evaluative case study carried out over two school terms in Western Australia, which examined the outcomes achieved by children experiencing a FMS program encompassing Vygotskian theory. Specifically, the paper will report on three Western Australian pre-primary classes (5-year-old children) that were involved in the case study. One class (n=28 children) experienced a FMS program incorporated into free play, while the other two classes were multi-age groups with the pre-primary children integrated with Year I children. These classes experienced a FMS program as an independent learning area session. Vygotskian theory guided the teaching/learning practices in all three FMS programs. The results of this study support the call for improved early childhood FMS programs and a shift in philosophy guiding the implementation of such programs, if fundamental movement skill outcomes are to be achieved.

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