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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam

Move-play-explore in early childhood education

Alternative title: Bevegelse, leik og utforsking i barnehagen

Awarded: NOK 12.5 mill.

Giving every child the best start in life must be the highest priority to promote equality, life opportunities, and a sustainable society. “Schoolification” within early childhood education and increased levels of physical inactivity in young children are worrisome trends that are not in the best interest of the child. In MoveEarly, we will conduct intervention research to solve key child developmental challenges by addressing these societal trends curtailing young children’s natural inclination to move, play, and explore. We will design a professional development for staff to promote movement, play, and exploration as cornerstones for good educational practices in early childhood education. In this way, we aim to promote young children’s health, development, and learning. The professional development will be designed with strong involvement from teachers and stakeholders to ensure the development of useful and sustainable solutions. We will conduct a large intervention study, including 50 preschools and 500 children in the western part of Norway, to evaluate the intervention’s effects on teaching practices and holistic child development over 18 months. We include a thorough process evaluation of the project to learn how staff understand, use, and develop their practices. Research activities involve theory development and didactic design, development of new assessments, co-creation of continuing professional development, effect evaluation, process evaluation, and knowledge transfer. We hope a broad evaluation will provide rich knowledge on sustainable solutions for early childhood education and population health. Through MoveEarly, we aim to build a nationally and internationally leading transdisciplinary research group on intervention research integrating physical activity, public health, and early childhood education. In this way, we will shape future public health and early childhood education policy and lay the foundation for a sustainable society.

Giving every child the best start in life must be the highest priority to effectively address social inequalities and improve population health, laying the foundation for equitable development of human capabilities, well-being, and life opportunities. Contemporary trends of “schoolification” within early childhood education and increased levels of physical inactivity in young children are two worrisome trends that are counterproductive to this aim. In this project we will provide ground-breaking experimental research to solve key child developmental challenges by addressing these societal trends curtailing young children’s natural inclination to move, play, and explore. In MoveEarly, we will design and test a responsive education intervention to promote movement, play, and exploration in early childhood education, implemented through continuing professional development of preschool staff (optional 15-credit). The intervention will be developed with strong user involvement from stakeholders to facilitate the development of sustainable solutions. We will conduct a large cluster randomized controlled trial investigating the intervention’s effects on preschool didactic practices and holistic child development over 18 months. We will recruit a minimum of 50 preschools and 500 children in the western part of Norway to ensure a large and heterogeneous sample for the study of intervention effects and implementation. The project is organized in six work packages, including didactic design, development of new assessments, co-creation of continuing professional development, effect evaluation, process evaluation, and knowledge transfer. A mixed-methods approach will be used to evaluate child and preschool effects and processes during the intervention period. The inclusion of various measures and user groups will allow triangulation of data and user perspectives and provide a rich inquiry into the intervention’s operation in various contexts.

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Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam