Affording an Active Lifestyle
Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown
Previous researchers have shown a positive association between family income and children’s activity level outside of school (Dearing et al., 2009). In the current study, researchers examined the correlation between income and activity preference among preschoolers, ages three to five, in western Michigan. Participants were selected from six preschools, which were partnered with the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway. This was a nature-based learning initiative funded by the Kellogg Foundation. Understanding the relationship between these two variables could be helpful for combatting inactivity and the consequences of unhealthy development in preschool children. This study involved 430 child-participants in the Holland/Zeeland area in classrooms that were classified by income as Tuition Based or Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). GSRP is a government-assisted funding program for preschoolers who may face obstacles for academic success in the state of Michigan. Activity preference of students was measured by researchers using a modified version of Leary’s Preschool Activity Preference Measure (2009). Additionally, demographic and income information were made available to researchers by the school administrators. Using means comparisons and correlational analyses, researchers examined the relationships between income, activity preference, and gender. Researchers predicted that preference for outdoor/non-sedentary activities would positively correlate with income. Moreover, it was hypothesized that boys would have a higher preference for non-sedentary/outdoor activity than girls. Next, boys in tuition-based classrooms would demonstrate a higher preference for non-sedentary/outdoor activity than their male peers in GSRP classrooms. Finally, across the six preschool sites, researchers predicted that there would be a significant difference between mean activity preference scores for tuition based classrooms and the mean activity preference scores for GSRP classrooms; with tuition-based classrooms predicted to have higher mean activity preference than their GSRP counterparts. Implications for this study would be beneficial for various educational programs seeking to reduce disparities between income levels.
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