The PLAY Project

Play and pre-Literacy Among Young children

Background: Approximately 28% of children are not ready for kindergarten, 91% are inactive according to current guidelines, and 21% are overweight/obese. Early intervention to strengthen movement and pre-literacy skills may help to curb the concerning rates of poor school readiness, inactivity, obesity, and subsequently positively impact health across the lifespan. The objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a motor and pre-literacy skill program for a community sample of 3-4-year-old children.

Methods: Parents selected into either the intervention group (to receive the intervention immediately) or wait-list control group (to receive the intervention 10 weeks later). The program was run for 1 hour/week for 10 weeks and consisted of movement skill instruction, free-play, and an interactive reading circle with care-giver involvement throughout each session. Movement and pre-literacy skills were assessed in all children before and after the intervention.

Results: Nineteen families (intervention group, n=8; wait-list control group, n=11) were recruited (Mean age=3yrs, 8m; 47% male). Children in the intervention group showed significant improvements compared to children in the wait-list control group in gross motor skills and word and print awareness. The wait-list control did not change over their control period, however significantly improved their movement and pre-literacy scores after receiving the intervention.

Conclusions: These results show that children improved their movement and pre-literacy skills as a result of participating in our program. The implications of these results are substantial because they provide evidence that participation in a program offering direct instruction in a fun and family-oriented environment has the potential to improve the movement and pre-literacy skills of preschool age children.


Bedard C, Bremer E, Campbell W, Cairney J. (2017). A Quasi-experimental Study of a Movement and Pre-literacy Program for 3 and 4 Year Old Children. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 5, 94. Available at:

Bedard C, Bremer E, Campbell W, Cairney J. (2018). Evaluation of a Direct-Instruction Intervention to Improve Movement and Preliteracy Skills among Young Children: A Within-Subject Repeated-Measures Design. Frontiers in Pediatrics. Available at: