e-Learning course boosts ECEs' confidence to provide healthy activities

By Kim McCready

It is well known that young children need physical activity for healthy development. In childcare, early childhood educators (ECEs) are influential on children’s physical activity levels, playing a prominent role in promoting healthy activity and limiting sedentary behaviours. However, ECEs have reported that they lack the appropriate training to confidently lead healthy activities for children in childcare.

Led by PhD student Brianne Bruijns and Trish Tucker, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Western, a team of researchers including members of the Faculty of Health Sciences produced a pilot study, Training EArly CHildhood educators (TEACH), that was designed to test whether targeted training in physical activity and sedentary behaviour could support improvements in ECEs’ self-efficacy (belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviours), knowledge, and behavioural intention.

For this study, a 4-module e-Learning course was developed in consultation with experts in physical activity and sedentary behaviour and early childhood education. More than 150 pre-service and in-service ECEs not only completed the course but also provided their perspectives through an evaluation survey or in-depth interview.

The study results, published in Pilot and Feasibility Studies, showed that the TEACH  e-Learning course was well-received by both pre-service and in-service ECEs and that it improved their knowledge and confidence to facilitate more physically active and less sedentary programming for children in childcare settings. Both groups also reported that the e-Learning platform was convenient to work into their schedules, promoted their learning, and would be feasible to integrate into pre- and in-service ECE training.

The TEACH e-Learning course has been an implementation success. Many participants reported that the course increased their confidence to promote physical activity in childcare and with the number of ECEs who completed the e-Learning course (173), more than 1000 young Canadian children (based on Ontario’s ECE to preschooler ratio of 1:8) will have ECEs who are more confident in facilitating active opportunities in the childcare setting.

Click to open Implementation infographic (PDF)


Click to open Outcomes infographic (PDF)