The role of playgrounds in the development of children’s fundamental movement skills: A scoping review

The role of playgrounds in the development of children’s fundamental movement skills: A scoping review

Authors: Charlotte Skau Pawlowski, Cathrine Damsbo Madsen, Mette Toftager, Thea Toft Amholt and Jasper Schipperijn

Abstract

Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are the basic skills children should develop but are low in children from high-income countries. Literature indicates that playgrounds can play an important role challenging children’s balance, agility, and coordination. However, knowledge on the influence of playgrounds on children’s FMS development is fragmented. The aim of the present scoping review was to create an overview of all research that is relevant when studying the influence of unstructured playground play on children’s FMS. Four electronic databases (Scopus, Web of Science, SportDiscus, and PsycInfo) were searched systematically in May 2022 and October 2023 following the PRISMA guidelines, leading to a final set of 14 publications meeting the inclusion criteria. The results of these publications indicate that it is important to design playgrounds with various features targeting balance, climbing, throwing, and catching to provide opportunities for children to enhance each FMS (i.e., stability, locomotor skills, and object control skills). Also, spreading features over a large area of the playground seems to ensure ample space per child, stimulate children to use locomotor skills by moving to and from features, and to play active games without equipment. Possibly, also natural play settings develop children’s FMS. These findings, however, should be read with caution. More experimental studies using objective and standardized FMS tests are needed in this research field for a more robust conclusion.

Journal:
PLOS One
Year:
2023