Evaluation of a Direct-Instruction Intervention to Improve Movement and Preliteracy Skills among Young Children: A Within-Subject Repeated-Measures Design
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Objective: School readiness involves the development of foundational skills such as emergent literacy and fundamental movement skills as well as the capacity to attentively engage in instructional situations. Children do not develop these skills naturally; therefore, they need the opportunity to develop these skills in their early years prior to entering school. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a direct-instruction movement and preliteracy intervention in children aged 3-4 years. Methods: A within-subject repeated-measures design, embedded within a wait-list control study, was used to evaluate the intervention. The intervention was run across 10 weeks with 1 h weekly sessions. Each weekly session consisted of 30-min of movement skill instruction (e.g., through single-step acquisition strategies), 15-min of free play during which time children had access to a variety of equipment (e.g., balls, hula hoops, etc.) or toys (e.g., puzzles, building blocks), and a 15-min interactive reading circle during which children read a storybook and were taught 1-2 preliteracy skills (e.g., alphabet knowledge, narrative knowledge, etc.). A convenience sample of 11 children (mean age = 45.6 months, SD = 7.3) was recruited. All children were assessed four times: baseline (Time 1), pre-intervention (Time 2), post-intervention (Time 3), and 5-week follow-up (Time 4). Gross motor skills and preliteracy skills were assessed at each time point. Results: There was a statistically significant effect of time on the change in gross motor skills (Wilks' lambda = 0.09, p = .002), print-concept skills (Wilks' lambda = 0.09, p = .001), and alphabet knowledge (Wilks' lambda = 0.29, p = .046). Post hoc analyses reveal non-significant changes between time 1 and 2 for motor and print-concept skills and significant changes in all three outcomes between time 2 and time 3. Conclusion: Participation in a direct-instruction movement and preliteracy program led to positive improvements in gross motor skills, print-concept knowledge, and alphabet knowledge in 3- to 4-year-old children over time. Future research needs to evaluate the effectiveness of this movement and preliteracy skill intervention on various other indicators of child development and health. Clinical Trial Registration: Play and Pre-Literacy among Young Children (PLAY) NCT02432443.
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