Socioecological correlates of perceived motor competence in 5–7‐year‐old Finnish children

Donna Niemistö*, Lisa M. Barnett, Marja Cantell, Taija Finni, Elisa Korhonen, Arja Sääkslahti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated child, family, and environmental factors associated with young children’s perceptions of locomotor (LM) and object control (OC) skills. The participants comprised 472 children (6.22 ± 0.63) and their parents. The children were assessed for their perception of motor competence in LM and OC skills (using the pictorial scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence for young children), and actual motor competence (Test of Gross Motor Development 3rd edition and Körperkoordinationstest Für Kinder). Anthropometrics were calculated using the children’s body mass index standard deviation scores. A parent questionnaire included questions about child factors (sex, child’s independent walking age, time spent sedentary and outdoors, participation in organized sport activities, and access to electronic devices), family factors (parent educational level, physical activity frequency, and sedentary behavior), and environmental factors (access to sport facilities). Variance analysis sought to identify age‐related differences, and a linear regression model examined correlates of children’s perception of LM and OC skills. The children’s movement skill perceptions were found to be generally high. Four factors explained 5.7% of the variance in perceptions of LM skills and 7.5% of the variance in perceptions of OC skills. Two factors, lower age and higher actual motor competence, explained most of the children’s skill perceptions. Access to electronic devices (less) and Body mass index (BMI) (higher) were associated with perceptions of LM skills. Participation in organized sport activities (higher) and parental education (lower) were associated with perceptions of OC skills. When promoting children’s physical activity and motor competence, perceptions of motor competence are an important consideration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-765
Number of pages13
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number5
Early online date21-Jan-2019
Publication statusPublished - May-2019


  • Body mass index
  • childcare center
  • KTK
  • locomotor skills
  • object control skills
  • self-perception
  • socioecological model
  • TGMD-3

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