Uni auditing kids for basic movement skills

UNIVERSITY of the Sunshine Coast researchers are screening the "physical literacy" of almost 1000 local schoolchildren to determine whether they have learned basic movement skills.

The study could have a major impact on how physical education is taught in schools.

The team has finished four months of recording how children in Years 1-8 performed seven movement competencies - squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, brace and rotate - along with their heights, weights and activity levels.

USC research fellow and sport and exercise scientist, Dr Mark McKean, said the data would be analysed and a further research project could develop a model for the participating schools' PE classes.

"We've certainly noticed issues with the children's movement abilities," Dr McKean said.

"The children who performed well in these movements also were generally active during the day, through sport or fitness, games or lunchtime play.

"That may be one of the key factors."

Dr McKean said many modern health problems were related to a lack of movement and could be treated by increased movement.

"Global research has proven the link between children who can't move well and obesity," he said.

"If a child doesn't enjoy physical activity or feel capable, they won't put themselves in that situation.

"They stay sedentary and inactive into adulthood."

He said the ability to move was once a standard part of any child's daily life and most children had a sound physical literacy that progressed into adulthood.

"However, with increasing technology, safety issues and environmental restrictions, many children no longer grow up with a movement-based approach to fun and daily activity," he said.

"In order to provide our children with these basic foundations we must first understand the movement competencies required to develop this physical literacy."

The researchers screened children at Sunshine Coast Grammar School and Immanuel Lutheran College.

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