G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
Skilled kids around Finland : the motor competence and perceived motor competence of children in childcare and associated socioecological factors (2021)
Taitavia tenavia ympäri Suomen : päiväkotilasten motoriset taidot ja koettu motorinen pätevyys sekä niihin yhteydessä olevia sosioekologisia tekijöitä

Niemistö, D. (2021). Skilled kids around Finland : the motor competence and perceived motor competence of children in childcare and associated socioecological factors [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Jyväskylä. JYU Dissertations, 394. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8691-9

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsNiemistö, Donna


Journal or seriesJYU Dissertations


Publication year2021

Number in series394

Number of pages in the book1 verkkoaineisto (190 sivua, 34 sivua useina numerointijaksoina, 25 numeroimatonta sivua)

PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä

Place of PublicationJyväskylä

Publication countryFinland

Publication languageEnglish

Persistent website addresshttp://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8691-9

Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel


The main objective of this study was to examine motor competence (MC) and perceived motor competence (PMC) in Finnish children attending childcare through the following research questions: 1) What is the level of MC and PMC in children living in different regions of Finland? and 2) Which socioecological factors are associated with their MC and PMC? The sample consisted of 945 children (mean 5.42 yrs., boys n = 473, girls n = 472) and their families, recruited via cluster-randomised childcare centres (n = 37) considering the geographical locations and residential densities of the childcare centres. MC was assessed with the Test of Gross Motor Development, third version (TGMD-3; Ulrich 2019) and Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK; Kiphard & Schilling 2007). PMC was assessed with the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence (PMSC; Barnett, Ridgers, Zask, & Salmon 2015) for young children. Information on socioecological factors and the child’s temperament were collected via parental questionnaires. Additionally, weight and height were directly measured, and children’s body mass index standard deviation score (BMI SDS) was calculated. Appropriate statistical analyses were performed, including linear regression models. As a result, MC seemed to increase but PMC to decrease as a function of age. Gender differences were found with the TGMD-3 and PMSC but not with KTK. Based on living environment, some differences were found as children from the countryside, spending most of the time outdoors, outperformed children from other regions in the TGMD-3. Children living in the metropolitan area participated the most in organised sport. Regarding socioecological factors, MC was positively associated with age, participation in organised sport and temperament traits such as activity and attention span persistence. Regarding PMC, younger age and higher levels of BMI SDS, participation in organised sport and the TGMD-3 gross motor index were associated with higher PMSC. In conclusion, the individual-level correlates appear to be the most important for MC and PMC, including age and gender. Therefore, age-appropriate tasks should be available for children. Gender differences and other related factors seem to vary to some extent in different MC assessment tools. Thus, the choice of test battery is crucial. As participation in organised sport was associated with better scoring on MC and PMC, it seems that in early childhood, motor development benefits from sport-related hobbies. Yet, as children from the countryside had the best MC, one should not forget the importance of outdoor play, everyday life choices and a supporting environment that helps to promote more daily physical activity in early childhood.

Keywordschildren (age groups)know-howcompetencemotor skills (general)motor functionssocioeconomic statussocioeconomic factorsagephysical hobbiestemperamentplaying (children's games)outdoor recreation

Free keywordsmotor skills; TGMD-3; KTK; perception of motor competence; PMSC; preschoolers; socioecological model

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 19:47