110 Global Education Review 5(2)

Complex Physical Activity, Outdoor Play, and School Readiness Among Preschoolers

Derek R. Becker Western Carolina University

Cathy L. Grist Western Carolina University

Lori A. Caudle Western Carolina University

Myra K. Watson Western Carolina University

Abstract High quality educational settings play a crucial role in preparing a to enter kindergarten, but little work has explored how outdoor play and complex physical activity outside school and childcare settings promote school readiness among preschoolers. To address this gap, the present study explored connections among school readiness with outdoor play and participation in complex physical activity. (N = 107) reported the extent and frequency of time their child spent in outdoor play during a typical week, and what complex activities (e.g., soccer, biking, ) the child played over the last year. School readiness was assessed with reports on the Behavior and Emotional Rating Scale. Results showed participating in complex activities significantly moderated the relationship between time in outdoor play with school readiness, with time in outdoor play positively related to school readiness for children who participated in two or less complex activities. For children who participated in three complex activities, time in outdoor play was not related to school readiness. Findings offer support that encouraging both outdoor play and participation in complex physical activities could promote school readiness, particularly when opportunities for outdoor playtime are limited.

Keywords Complex physical activities, outdoor play, school readiness, preschoolers

Introduction focused on whether preschoolers’ participation in complex physical activities and outdoor While the National Association for the ______Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Corresponding Author: endorses a multi-dimensional view of school Derek R. Becker, Western Carolina University, 1 University readiness (NAEYC, 2004), little research has Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28723. E-mail: [email protected]

Global Education Review is a publication of The School of Education at Mercy College, New York. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Citation: Becker, Derek. R., Grist, Cathy L., Caudle, Lori A., & Watson, Myra K. (2018). Complex physical activity, outdoor play, and school readiness among preschoolers. Global Education Review, 5 (2), 110-122. Complex physical activity, outdoor play, and school readiness 111

play promote the development of early intellectual and social development (Duncan et academic skills. Early childhood is a crucial time al., 2007; Romano, Babchishin, Pagani, & for motor and cognitive skill development (Myer Kohen, 2010). Cognitive skills that promote et al., 2015), and evidence suggests preschool school readiness often involve executive children who engage in active forms of play have function, which are cognitive processes involved better memory and attention (Becker, in the control of goal-directed cognition and McClelland, Loprinzi, & Trost, 2014; Diamond & behavior (Koziol, Budding, & Chidekel, 2012; Lee, 2011). However, in a typical school day, Miyake, Friedman, Emerson, Witzki, & preschoolers engage in many forms of play and Howerter, 2000). Executive function is involved other experiences, yet it is not clear how in the development of abstract thought and the specific types of activities and play outside of formation of rules involved in the learning educational settings promote school readiness. process (Kharitonova & Munakata, 2011; Snyder Therefore, the present study examines the direct & Munakata, 2010), and can predict short and and moderated relationship between parent long-term academic development. For example, reports of child outdoor play and participation in executive function measured in the fall of both complex physical activities (e.g., soccer, prekindergarten and kindergarten predict basketball, dance, gymnastics) on school change in math in spring of the respective readiness. Complex physical activities can occur academic year (McClelland et al., 2014). both during spontaneous indoor/outdoor play Along with executive function, prosocial and within organized team , with the behaviors that include the ability to understand former being more likely among preschoolers. self and others, cooperate with peers, and Following evidence with older samples regulate are also related to short and that participating in complex physical activity long-term academic outcomes. For boys, high (i.e., sports) is associated with academic levels of aggressive behavior and low levels of achievement (Becker, 2016), and that children prosocial behaviors in prekindergarten are who engage in active play have better memory linked to low concurrent emergent literacy and attention (Becker et al., 2014), it was scores, with solitary play related to low emergent predicted that participating in a greater number literacy for boys and girls (Doctoroff, Greer, & of complex physical activities and spending Arnold, 2006). Children who display more more time in outdoor play would be related to prosocial behavior in kindergarten are also school readiness. We also examined if found to have higher math and reading scores in participating in complex physical activities the third grade (Romano et al., 2010). Given the moderated the relationship between time in above connections between school readiness outdoor play with school readiness, such that for with academic achievement, it is important to children who participate in less complex examine factors such as outdoor play and physical activities, the extent and frequency of complex physical activities that could promote time spent in outdoor play will positively relate school readiness. to school readiness. Outdoor Play, Complex Physical School Readiness and Academic Activities, and School Readiness Achievement The connection between the cognitive and social School readiness is a multidimensional construct components of school readiness with outdoor that includes domain general skills related to play and participation can be found in the 112 Global Education Review 5(2) aerobic activity that could be achieved during function were found for children in both a high play, the complexity of participating in a and low training group (Chang, Tsai, Chen, & complex task that taps executive function, and in Hung, 2013). Similar to Chang, after the social skills that could be developed when participating in a 6-month soccer intervention, interacting with peers. For the former, evidence children between age 7 and 9 showed suggests that children who spend more time in improvement in executive function relative to a outdoor play are more physically active and non-exercise control group (Alesi, Bianco, physically fit (Cleland et al., 2008), with physical Luppina, Palma, & Pepi, 2016). activity and physical fitness linked to higher At the same time, both complex physical executive function. For example, in a non- activities and natural outdoor play often involve experimental study with children between 9 and peer interactions that could be linked to the 10, higher fit showed better executive development of social skills (Bailey, 2006; Gould function and greater activity in brain regions & Carson, 2008). For example, in a study with associated with attention and memory shy children, participation in complex physical (Chaddock, Erickson, Prakesh, Chaddock, activity was linked to a reduction in anxiety and Erickson, Parkash, Van Patter, et al., 2010). better socials skills (Findlay & Coplan, 2008). Higher physically fit children are better able to Children who participate in sport-type activities control their behavior (Chaddock-Heyman et al., also show higher levels of social competence and 2013), and show greater prefrontal and parietal lower levels of social anxiety (Dimech & Seiler, activation (Chaddock et al., 2012). In preschool 2010; Haugen, Säfvenbom, & Ommundsen, samples, active outdoor play is linked to better 2013). Finally, when comparing both outdoor executive function (Becker et al., 2014), with and indoor play, outdoor play was linked to physical fitness also predicting working memory more peer- based interactive dramatic play and attention (Niederer et al., 2011). (Shim, Herwig, & Shelley, 2001). Evidence also suggests the combination of Together, the above evidence suggests that exercise and cognitive engagement enhance the an outdoor environment that encourages the relationship with executive function (Curlik Ii & child to be physically active, promotes activities Shors, 2013; Koutsandréou, Wegner, Niemann, that include a combination of aerobic movement & Budde, 2016), with sports such as soccer, and complex motor skills such as kicking, , and wrestling associated with higher throwing, or riding a bike, and allows for social executive function (Memmert, 2009; Nakamoto interactions could be associated with school & Mori, 2012; Williams & Ford, 2008). Although readiness. In the present study, we examine if the majority of work examining the cognitive children who spend more time in outdoor play, benefits of sport participation are with older participate in more sport activities, or some samples, exposure to the perceptual and combination of the two have higher school cognitive demands of a sport such as soccer, readiness in the fall of the prekindergarten year. gymnastics, or dance, or sport type activity such as riding a bike, is associated with change in The Moderating Role of Complex executive function, the retention of motor skills, Physical Activity with Outdoor and increased activation in brain areas involved Play and School Readiness in executive function (Lin et al., 2013; Saemi, Although evidence points to a direct relationship Porter et al., 2012). In work with kindergarten between outdoor play and participation in age children, following eight weeks of soccer complex physical activity with school readiness, skills training, improvements in executive Complex physical activity, outdoor play, and school readiness 113

it’s also possible that the relationship between Therefore, the purpose of this study was to outdoor play with school readiness could vary assess the relationship between time spent in based on the number of complex physical outdoor play and participating in complex activities a child plays. For example, in work physical activities with school readiness. with older children, evidence suggests that if a Research question one investigated if children child plays a high number of complex sports, who spend more time in outdoor play and/or such that require attention and are played in a participate in more complex physical activities shifting environment (e.g., soccer, volleyball), have higher school readiness? Drawing on the physical activity required to play the sport research suggesting participating in outdoor play (assessed as metabolic intensity), is less related and complex physical activities are linked to the to executive function (Becker, 2016). However, cognitive and social components of school when a child plays repetitive sports that require readiness (Becker et al., 2014; Chang et al., less attention (e.g., , swimming), the 2013; Shim et al., 2001), it was predicted that level of physical activity required to play the the extent and frequency of time spent in sport (metabolic intensity) is positively related outdoor play and participating in more types of to executive function. complex physical activities would be positively For children in the present study that associated with school readiness. Research participate in fewer complex physical activities, question two assessed if participation in complex it is possible they could achieve a similar level of physical activities moderated the relationship school readiness if they spend more time in between time spent in outdoor play with school outdoor play. Given that motor skills are readiness? Following evidence from Becker, developing in preschoolers, participating in (2016), which suggests if a child plays multiple complex physical activity at a young age could complex sports, the physical activity required to promote school readiness (Chang et al., 2013). play each sport is less related to executive However, for children who participate in fewer function, it was predicted the relationship of these activities, it is possible that spending between outdoor play with school readiness more time in outdoor play could improve school would be moderated by the number of complex readiness through spending more time being physical activities a child played; such that for physically active (Becker et al., 2014; Cleland et children who participated in less complex al., 2008). Thus, it is possible for preschoolers physical activities, time spent in outdoor play who participate in multiple complex activities, would be positively related to higher school the extent and frequency of time spent in readiness. outdoor play could be less related to school readiness. Method Participants Summary and Hypothesis Participants included 107 children attending High quality early childhood educational preschool in a center in settings play a crucial role in promoting Western North Carolina. Children were sampled academic skills (Vandell, Belsky, Burchinal, from a single center with multiple classrooms Steinberg, & Vandergrift, 2010), yet little work (n = 6). Data was collected in the fall of the has focused on how outdoor play and complex prekindergarten year through packets sent home physical activities, both at home and preschool, with parents. The average age at the beginning could promote academic skill development. of the study was 50.94 months (range = 36.03 – 114 Global Education Review 5(2)

60.11 months). A total of 54 of the children were outside of the formal early childhood female, and 55 were male. The average yearly educational setting. Given that over a third income of the sample was 45,060 (range = 0 - (78.49%) of the sample participated in 3 or 161,710). fewer sports, children who participated in 4 or more sports were aggregated into one group (see Measures Table 1). Outdoor Play The extent and frequency of time spent in School Readiness outdoor play was measured by asking parents, The Preschool Behavioral and Emotional Rating “On a typical week, how many hours is your Scales (PreBERS) is a standard, norm- child outside playing?” The average number of referenced assessment, which measures the hours of outside play reported by parents was behavioral and emotional strengths of preschool 8.00 (range = 0 - 25). children, particularly 3-5 years of age. The scale includes 42 items, which rate on a 4-point Likert Complex Physical Activity scale (0=not all like the child; 1=not much like Participation in complex physical activities was the child; 2=like the child; 3=very much like the measured by asking parents on a typical week, if child). The PreBERS includes 4 subscales: the child participated in any of 8 complex Emotional Regulation (13 items), School physical activities (see Table 1). The average Readiness (13 items), Social Confidence (9 number of complex physical activities which items), and Involvement (7 items). The children participated in was 2 (range 0 - 8), with school readiness subscale was used in the 83 of the children participating in at least one present analysis. The internal consistency complex physical activity. The complex physical reliability for the School Readiness subscale, activity variable was a count of the number of coefficients averaged .94 for males, and .95 for activities in which the child participated in, females (Epstein & Synhorst, 2009).

Table 1 Complex Physical Activities N = 93 Activity Played Sport Did not Play Sport Sports Sport Groups n n n Soccer 23 70 No Sport 11 Basketball 21 72 One Sport 27 T-Ball 17 76 Two Sports 18 Football 13 80 Three Sports 19 Dance 33 60 Four or More 18 Gymnastics 22 71 Bike 59 34 Scooter 33 60 Note: Played Sport = The number of children who played each individual sport. Did not Play Sport = The number of children who did not play each individual sport

115 Global Education Review 5(2)

Analytic Plan model. To assess if school readiness was Direct and moderated connections were stronger for children who spent more time in examined between complex physical activity, outdoor play, participated in more complex outdoor play, and school readiness. Pearson physical activities, or if the connection with bivariate correlations were conducted on school readiness varied by complex physical complex physical activity, extent and frequency activities, model one regressed outdoor play and of time spent in outdoor play (hours), and school sport participation on school readiness. The readiness, as measured by the PreBERS. A interaction between outdoor play with sport multiple regression was computed to examine participation on school readiness was added in the connection among complex physical model two. activities and hours of outdoor play on school readiness. The main effect of complex physical Results activity and outdoor play was examined in model Descriptive for complex physical one, with the interaction between physical activity participation can be found in Table 1, activity and outdoor play added in model two. and descriptive statistics (including correlations) All analyses were completed using Stata for all variables included in the current analyses 13.1 (StataCorp, 2013). The percent of missing can be found in Table 2. data ranged from < .02% to .18%, with Full Results for model one showed that the Information Maximum Likelihood estimation extent and frequency of time spent in outdoor (FIML) used to address the issue of missing data play was not significantly associated with school (Schafer & Graham, 2002). FIML utilizes all readiness (B = .09. p = .374) after controlling for available information and has been shown to child gender, child age, and family income. produce less biased estimates than listwise However, participating in complex physical deletion (Acock, 2012; Enders, 2001). Outliers activities was positively and significantly were classified as values which were greater or associated with school readiness (B = 1.07, p = lesser than 3.3 standard deviations from the .015), with children who participated in more mean. There was 1 outlier for outdoor play and 2 complex physical activities showing higher for family income. Both outliers were recoded to scores on the measure of school readiness (see the next closest valid value for that measure Table 3). within +/- 3.3 standard deviations. One outlier was also found for child age. Child gender, child age, and family income were used as control variables for each 116 Global Education Review 5(2)

Table 2 Descriptive Statistics and Bivariate Pairwise Correlations Between Variables. Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. Outdoor Play ------2. Sport Activity .32** - - - - - 3. School Readiness .17† .26* - - - - 4. Gender -.11 -.05 -.18† - - - 5. Child Age -.02 -.02 .26* .06 - - 6. Family Income .01 .02 .13 .09 -.02 - N 93 93 91 107 107 95 Mean 8.01 2.41 32.07 51.19 45,060 SD 5.88 1.98 5.89 6.84 35,271 Min 0 0 1 0 36.3 0 Max 25 8 39 1 60.11 161,710 †p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01

Table 3 Regression Model Results: Main Effects Outdoor Play, Complex Physical Activity, and the Interaction Between Outdoor Play and Complex Physical Activity with School Readiness. School Readinessa Model 1 Model 2 Variables B SE ß B SE ß Outdoor Playb .09 .09 .09 .47** .18 .46 Complex PAC 1.07* .44 .24 2.47** .71 .55 Gender -2.01† 1.11 -.17 -2.03† 1.08 -.17 Child Age .26** .08 .30 .27** .08 .32 Family Income .00 .00 .08 .00 .00 .03 Outdoor Play* Sports – – – -.17* .07 -.59 Note. B = Unstandardized Estimate.  = Standardized Estimate. SE = Standard Error. †p < .10. *p < .05 **p < .01 aThe Preschool Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scales bThe extent and frequency of time in outdoor play is measured in hours. C PA = Complex Physical Activity 117 Global Education Review 5(2)

Results for model two revealed a readiness for children who played no sports. significant interaction between the number of However, for children who played 3 sports, time complex physical activities a child played with in outdoor play did not predict higher school the extent and frequency of time spent in readiness (see Figure 1). outdoor play on children’s school readiness (B = Based on a reviewer suggestion, post hoc -.17, p = .015) (see Table 3). A test of the regions analysis were conducted that included an of significance (Preacher, Curran, & Bauer, average of the number of hours’ parents 2006) to identify the number of complex reported their child spent playing each complex physical activities within which time in outdoor physical activity (Mean = .45, range 0 - 2.25). play was linked with children’s school readiness This was done to control for overlap for parents showed the region of significance fell between who might have reported the extent and 2.57 and 3.06. This suggests that for children frequency of time in outdoor play as being time who played two sports, more time spent in the child spent participating in complex physical outdoor play predicted higher school readiness. activity. Results did not differ when including The extent and frequency of time spent in this variable in either model. outdoor play was also positively related to school

21 20 19 18 17 3 Activities 16 2 Activities 15 No Activities School Readiness Readiness School 14 13 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Extent and Frequency of Time in Outdoor Play

Figure 1. Interaction Between Extent and Frequency of Time in Outdoor Play and Complex Physical Activity Participation with School Readiness.

Note: Slopes represent the relationship between hours in outdoor play with school readiness for children who participated in 0, 2, and 3 complex physical activities. The extent and frequency of time in outdoor play is measured in hours. 118 Global Education Review 5(2)

Discussion between outdoor play with school readiness for There is a need to understand the role of outdoor children who participate in fewer complex learning environments and activities that occur activities. This result is somewhat consistent within such environments in the development of with past work that examined coordinative academic skills. Prior studies have found that exercise, team requiring physical activity, cognitive components of school readiness are and interventions involving training in a sport linked to physical activity (Becker et al., 2014; skill, such as soccer (Chang et al., 2013; Davis et al., 2011) and participating in sports Koutsandréou et al., 2016; Schmidt, Jäger, (Chang et al., 2013), but the cognitive and Egger, Roebers, & Conzelmann, 2015). Evidence academic benefits of outdoor play and complex from these studies show the perceptual and physical activity are not fully understood in cognitive demands of a sport and the shifting prekindergarten children. Therefore, the context require attention that could be purpose of this study was to assess if the extent leading to improved cognitive performance and frequency of time spent in outdoor play, the following prolonged exposure. However, the number of complex physical activities a child interaction also suggests, as participation in plays, or some combination of the two is linked complex physical activities increase (e.g., to school readiness. Results supported the moving from two to three activities), the hypothesis that participating in complex association between outdoor play with school physical activities would moderate the readiness becomes flat. This suggests, for association between outdoor play with school children who participate in one, two, or no readiness, with a positive association found complex activities, their school readiness scores between school readiness with time spent in increase when they spend more time in outdoor outdoor play for children who played two or play. fewer complex activities. For children who At a practical level, time spent playing participated in 3 complex activities, time in outside likely means that the child is not outdoor play was not related to school readiness, engaged in screen time. High levels of screen although children in this group showed the time are linked to lower vocabulary scores, poor highest level of school readiness. Results offer interpersonal skills, and lower levels of physical support that early care settings that offer activity (Carson, Rahman, & Wiebe, 2017; children the opportunity to participate in Hinkley, Salmon, Okely, Crawford, & Hesketh, complex physical activities could promote school 2012; Hinkley, Timperio, Salmon, & Hesketh, readiness, but also suggests that a similar 2017). It is possible that children in the present connection could be found if children are given study who spend more time in outdoor play are time to play outdoors. engaging in less screen time and spending more time being physically active. Non-organized Outdoor Environments and the physical activity is also linked to higher vocabulary scores (Carson et al., 2017), and this Interaction Between Sports and is consistent with the connection between Outdoor Play outdoor play and school readiness found in the Results in the present study showed that present study. complex physical activity significantly At the same time, children who moderated the connection between the extent participated in three or more complex physical and frequency of time a child spends in outdoor activities showed the highest school readiness play with school readiness. The nature of the scores, with school readiness unrelated to the interaction points to a positive connection amount of time in outdoor play for these Complex physical activity, outdoor play, and school readiness 119 children. This is consistent with results from suggest that participating in complex physical Becker (2016), who found, for children who activities (i.e., sport type activities) is helping to played more complex sports (e.g., soccer, prepare children for school. volleyball), the physical intensity needed to play the sport was negatively related to executive Limitations and Future Directions function. Further, the highest executive function This study revealed connections among outdoor was found for children who played multiple play and participating in complex physical complex sports at a low physical intensity. It is activity with school readiness, but there were likely if a child is participating in three or more also a number of limitations. First, given that sports, they are spending time being physically this was a concurrent study it was not possible to active and interacting with peers, both of which assess the directionality between outdoor play are connected with school readiness. and participating in complex physical activity The present study is unique in that it with school readiness. It is entirely possible that examined multiple complex activities (i.e., sport children with better school readiness select to type activities) in a population where motor and spend more time playing outdoors or cognitive skills are starting to develop. Although participating in complex physical activity. Future the complex physical activities assessed in the work should assess longitudinal connections present study varied in the level of focus and among school readiness, outdoor play, and attention needed to perform the activity (e.g., participating in complex physical activity (i.e., riding a bike or scooter vs kicking a soccer ball to sports). Second, outdoor play, participating in a friend), they all required motor learning to complex physical activity, and school readiness some degree. As motor skills are developing were all derived from parent reports. We within this age group (Myer et al., 2015), it is therefore could not objectively determine the possible that learning to ride a bike or scooter, amount of time a child spent participating in or throw, kick, or catch a ball could be taxing outdoor play or complex physical activity, and attention and inhibitory control, and improve future work should objectively assess both. the cognitive component of school readiness. It was also not possible to determine if Neuroanatomical connections support this parents’ responses ignored the time spent by proposal, with the , a brain region children playing outside when attending central for coordination and motor control childcare. However, given that little research has (Marr, 1969), connected to cortical systems examined how participating in outdoor play and involved in executive function (Diamond, 2000; complex physical activity could relate to school Stoodley & Schmahmann, 2009). readiness, this study is a starting point for future Participation in sport-type activities is also work in this area. Results can also only be linked to higher levels of social competence and generalized to the eight complex activities lower levels of social anxiety (Dimech & Seiler, analyzed in the present analysis. Further, school 2010; Haugen et al., 2013). As prosocial readiness is a complex construct that not only behaviors are linked to higher math and reading includes children's readiness for school, but also scores (Romano et al., 2010), it is possible that the schools' readiness for the child along with skills involved in positive social interactions the and communities' readiness for could be developing as children interact with school (Britto, 2012; Dockett & Perry, 2009; peers both during outdoor play and participation 2014). Future work should examine if similar in complex physical activity. Together, the connections are found with other less traditional intersection among sensory-motor experience, sport activities and use a multidimensional social engagement, and the physical and assessment of school readiness. Future work embodied representation of information could should also assess parents' and teachers' 120 Global Education Review 5(2) attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs related to the Acknowledgment role of physical activity in cognitive The authors acknowledge the support of development. Finally, assessing connections a School University Teacher Education among engagement in dialogic book reading, Partnership Grant from the College of Education motor skills, and physical activity are also and Allied Professions at Western Carolina important avenues for future research given University, without which this work would not there connection to early school readiness have been possible. (Becker, Miao, Duncan, & McClelland, 2014; MacDonald et al., 2016; Mol, Bus, de Jong, & References Smeets, 2008). Acock, A. C. (2012). What to do about missing values. In H. Cooper, P. M. Camic, D. L. Long, A. T. Panter, D. Rindskopf & K. J. Sher (Eds.), APA handbook of Conclusion and Implications research methods in , vol 3: Data Several important applications can be taken analysis and research publication (pp. 27-50). from the present results and applied to work Washington, DC, US: American Psychological within early care settings. First, educating Association. Alesi, M., Bianco, A., Luppina, G., Palma, A., & Pepi, A. parents and teachers about the cognitive and (2016). Improving children's coordinative skills and health benefits of physical activity could executive functions the effects of a football exercise promote school readiness by demonstrating the program. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 122(1), 27-46. need to create more opportunities for children to Bailey, R. (2006). and sport in schools: A play outdoors. Programs aimed at encouraging review of benefits and outcomes. Journal of School Health, 76(8), 397-401. parents and teachers to get active could also Becker, D. R. (2016). Moving towards academic success and alter attitudes and beliefs about the benefits of life long learning. (Dissertation). Retrieved from outdoor play and increase the overall level of http://hdl.handle.net/1957/59362 physical activity for both adults and children. [email protected] database. Children who are given the opportunity to play Becker, D. R., McClelland, M. M., Loprinzi, P., & Trost, S. G. (2014). Physical activity, self-regulation, and early outside are also likely to engage in less screen academic achievement in preschool children. Early time and be more physically active (Hinkley et Education & Development, 25(1), 56-70. al., 2012). Thus, programs with limited sport Becker, D. R., Miao, A., Duncan, R., & McClelland, M. M. resources might realize academic benefits by (2014). Behavioral self-regulation and executive allowing children time to play outdoors. function both predict visuomotor skills and early academic achievement. Early Childhood Research Second, offering children the opportunity Quarterly, 29(4), 411-424. to participate in complex physical activities (i.e., Britto, P. R. (2012). School readiness: A conceptual sport type activities) might also promote school framework. New York: Education Section, readiness. This could be accomplished by Programme Division, United Nations Children’s providing informal opportunities for a child to Fund. Carson, V., Rahman, A. A., & Wiebe, S. A. (2017). ride a bike, or kick, throw, and catch a ball, or Associations of subjectively and objectively measured through formal sport instruction. Third, the sedentary behavior and physical activity with combination of outdoor play and participating in in the early years. Mental complex physical activity could act in an additive Health and Physical Activity. manner to improve school readiness, with Chaddock, L., Erickson, K. I., Prakash, R. S., Kim, J. S., Voss, M. W., VanPatter, M., . . . Kramer, A. F. (2010). A programs that integrate both possibly seeing the neuroimaging investigation of the association strongest benefits in preparing children for between aerobic fitness, hippocampal volume, and school. memory performance in preadolescent children. [doi: DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.08.049]. Brain Research, 1358, 172-183. Chaddock, L., Erickson, K. I., Prakash, R. S., VanPatter, M., Voss, M. W., Pontifex, M. B., . . Kramer, A. F. (2010). Complex physical activity, outdoor play, and school readiness 121

Basal ganglia volume is associated with aerobic Dockett, S. & Perry, B. (2014). Continuity of learning: A fitness in preadolescent children. Developmental resource to support effective transition to school and , 32(3), 249-256. school age care. Canberra, ACT: Australian Chaddock, L., Erickson, K. I., Prakash, R. S., Voss, M. W., Government Department of Education. VanPatter, M., Pontifex, M. B., . . .Kramer, A. F. Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., (2012). A functional MRI investigation of the Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., . . . Brooks-Gunn, J. association between childhood aerobic fitness and (2007). School readiness and later achievement. neurocognitive control. Biological Psychology, 89(1), , 43(6), 1428. 260-268. Epstein, M.H., & Synhorst, L. (2009). Preschool behavioral Chaddock-Heyman, L., Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Knecht, and emotional rating scale (PreBERS): A strengths- A. M., Pontifex, M. B., Castelli,D.M., . . . Kramer, A. based approach to assessment. Austin:Pro-Ed. F. (2013). The effects of physical activity on Enders, C. K. (2001). The performance of the full functional MRI activation associated with cognitive information maximum likelihood estimator in control in children: a randomized controlled multiple regression models with missing data. intervention. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 61, Curlik Ii, D. M., & Shors, T. J. (2013). Training your brain: 713-740. Do mental and physical (map) training enhance Findlay, L. C., & Coplan, R. J. (2008). Come out and play: cognition through the process of neurogenesis in the Shyness in childhood and the benefits of organized hippocampus? Neuropharmacology, 64, 506-514. sports participation. Canadian Journal of doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.07.027 Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences Chang, Y.-K., Tsai, Y.-J., Chen, T.-T., & Hung, T.-M. (2013). du comportement, 40(3), 153. The impacts of coordinative exercise on executive Gould, D., & Carson, S. (2008). Life skills development function in kindergarten children: an ERP study. through sport: Current status and future directions. Experimental Brain Research, 225(2), 187-196. International Review of Sport and Exercise Cleland, V., Crawford, D., Baur, L. A., Hume, C., Timperio, Psychology, 1(1), 58-78. A., & Salmon, J. (2008). A prospective examination Haapala, E. A., Väistö, J., Lintu, N., Westgate, K., Ekelund, of children's time spent outdoors, objectively U., Poikkeus, A.-M., . . . Lakka, T. A. (2016). Physical measured physical activity and overweight. activity and sedentary time in relation to academic International Journal of , 32(11), 1685-1693. achievement in children. Journal of Science and Davis, C. L., Tomporowski, P. D., McDowell, J. E., Austin, B. Medicine in Sport. P., Miller, P. H., Yanasak, N. E., . . . Naglieri, J. A. Haugen, T., Säfvenbom, R., & Ommundsen, Y. (2013). Sport (2011). Exercise improves executive function and participation and loneliness in adolescents: the achievement and alters brain activation in mediating role of perceived social competence. overweight children: a randomized, controlled trial. Current Psychology, 32(2), 203-216. Health Psychology, 30(1), 91. Hinkley, T., Salmon, J., Okely, A. D., Crawford, D., & Diamond, A. (2000). Close interrelation of motor Hesketh, K. (2012). Preschoolers' physical activity, development and cognitive development and of the screen time, and compliance with recommendations. cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. Child Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 44(3), Development, 71(1), 44-56. 458-465. Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid Hinkley, T., Timperio, A., Salmon, J., & Hesketh, K. (2017). executive function development in children 4 to 12 Does preschool physical activity and electronic media years old. Science, 333(6045), 959-964. use predict later social and emotional skills at 6 to 8 Dimech, A. S., & Seiler, R. (2010). The association between years? A cohort study. J Phys Act Health (4), 308- extra-curricular sport participation and social anxiety 316. symptoms in children. Journal of Clinical Sport Kharitonova, M., & Munakata, Y. (2011). The role of Psychology, 4(3), 191-203. representations in executive function: Investigating a Doctoroff, G. L., Greer, J. A., & Arnold, D. H. (2006). The developmental link between flexibility and relationship between social behavior and emergent abstraction. Frontiers in Psychology, 2. literacy among preschool boys and girls. Journal of Koutsandréou, F., Wegner, M., Niemann, C., & Budde, H. Applied Developmental Psychology, 27(1), 1-13. (2016). Effects of motor versus cardiovascular doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2005.12.003 exercise training on children's working memory. Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2009). Readiness for school: a Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 48(6), relational construct. Australasian 1144-1152. Journal of Early Childhood, 34(1), 20. Koziol, L. F., Budding, D. E., & Chidekel, D. (2012). From movement to thought: Executive function, embodied 122 Global Education Review 5(2)

cognition, and the cerebellum. The Cerebellum, 11(2), endogenous flexibility in children. Cognition, 116(2), 505-525. doi: 10.1007/s12311-011-0321-y 155-167. MacDonald, M., Lipscomb, S., McClelland, M. M., Duncan, StataCorp. (2013). Stata Statistical Software: Release 13. R., Becker, D., Anderson, K., & Kile, M. (2016). College Station, TX: StataCorp LP. Relations of preschoolers' visual-motor and object Stoodley, C. J., & Schmahmann, J. D. (2009). Functional manipulation skills with executive function and topography in the human cerebellum: a meta- social behavior. Research Quarterly for Exercise and analysis of neuroimaging studies. Neuroimage, Sport, 1-12. 44(2), 489-501. Marr, D. (1969). A theory of cerebellar cortex. The Journal of Vandell, D. L., Belsky, J., Burchinal, M., Steinberg, L., & Physiology, 202(2), 437-470. Vandergrift, N. (2010). Do effects of early McClelland, M. M., Cameron, C. E., Duncan, R., Bowles, R. extend to age 15 years? Results from the NICHD P., Acock, A. C., Miao, A., & Pratt, M. E. (2014). study of early child care and youth development. Predictors of early growth in academic achievement: Child Development, 81(3), 737-756. the head-toes-knees shoulders task. Frontiers in Williams, A. M., & Ford, P. R. (2008). Expertise and expert Psychology, 5, 599. performance in sport. International Review of Sport Memmert, D. (2009). Pay attention! A review of visual and Exercise Psychology, 1(1), 4-18. attentional expertise in sport. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2(2), 119-138. Miyake, A. U., Friedman, N. P., Emerson, M. J., Witzki, A. About the Author(s) H., & Howerter, A. (2000). The unity and diversity of Derek R. Becker, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the executive functions and their contributions to Birth-Kindergarten program at Western Carolina complex ‘frontal lobe’ tasks: A latent variable University. He teaches a range of early childhood research analysis. Cognitive Psychology, 41, 49-100. methods courses, along with math, science and Myer, G. D., Faigenbaum, A. D., Edwards, N. M., Clark, J. F., curriculum. His research focuses on connections among play, Best, T. M., & Sallis, R. E. (2015). Sixty minutes of physical activity, and sport participation with executive what? A developing brain perspective for activating function and early learning. children with an integrative exercise approach. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(23), 1510- Cathy Grist, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Director 1516. of the Birth-Kindergarten Program at Western Carolina Nakamoto, H., & Mori, S. (2012). Experts in fast-ball sports University. She has taught courses in assessment and reduce anticipation timing cost by developing intervention for young children with disabilities in a fully inhibitory control. Brain and Cognition, 80(1), 23- online program for the last 10 years. She is a licensed clinical 32. psychologist who provides psychological and behavioral Preacher, K. J., Curran, P. J., & Bauer, D. J. (2006). assessments, as well as interventions for preschool age Computational tools for probing interactions in children in private practice. multiple linear regression, multilevel modeling, and Research interests include preschool personality, latent curve analysis. Journal of Educational and assessment, social-emotional competence in young children, Behavioral Statistics, 31(4), 437-448. behavioral issues, and online teaching strategies and Romano, E., Babchishin, L., Pagani, L. S., & Kohen, D. methods. (2010). School readiness and later achievement: replication and extension using a nationwide Lori Caudle, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Birth- Canadian survey. Developmental Psychology, 46(5), Kindergarten program at Western Carolina University. 995. She teaches a range of early childhood methods courses, Schmidt, M., Jäger, K., Egger, F., Roebers, C. M., & including authentic assessment, literacy, environments, and Conzelmann, A. (2015). Cognitively engaging chronic curriculum. Her research focuses on the professional physical activity, but not aerobic exercise, affects development of in-service and pre-service early childhood executive functions in primary school children: a teachers, with a particular focus on the use of digital tools group-randomized controlled trial. Journal of Sport and/or collaboration to enhance learning. & Exercise Psychology, 37(6). Shim, S.-Y., Herwig, J. E., & Shelley, M. (2001). Myra Watson, MAEd, NBCT, is an instructor in the Preschoolers' play behaviors with peers in classroom Birth-Kindergarten Program at Western Carolina University. and settings. Journal of Research in She is a former prekindergarten and kindergarten teacher. Childhood Education, 15(2), 149-163. Snyder, H. R., & Munakata, Y. (2010). Becoming self- directed: Abstract representations support