Play and Pre-Literacy Among Young Children (PLAY)

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McMaster University




Child Development


Behavioral: Motor and pre-literacy program
Other: Wait-list Comparison

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Children begin to develop fundamental motor skills (FMS), such as running and kicking, and pre-literacy skills, such as rhyming, during early childhood. These skills are very important as they lay the foundation for more complex movements and literacy skill development later in life, support overall healthy development in several areas, and help contribute to the child's readiness for school. A child with strong motor skills is well equipped to lead a life with healthy levels of physical activity, positive social interactions, positive self-perceptions, and greater cognitive and language abilities. These skills will not develop optimally on their own so it is essential to teach, challenge, and reinforce them at an early age; often this learning takes place at home prior to entering school. Most research on this topic has primarily focused on school-aged children or children with specific developmental challenges and less is known about teaching motor and pre-literacy skills to young children and giving parents the tools to practice these skills at home with their children. The aim of the present study is to examine the effect of a motor and pre-literacy program, which emphasizes parental involvement, on motor, pre-literacy, social skills, cognitive abilities, and self-competence in 3 to 4 year old children with typical development.

Full description

The primary purpose of the intervention is to support the overall healthy development of children. Children will be recruited from families attending community agencies (e.g. Ontario Early Years Centres) in Hamilton. Interested parents will receive information flyers with the study team's contact information and instructions to contact the study team if they are interested in participating in the study. Interested parents will be screened for eligibility of their child. Information packages will be emailed or mailed to eligible families and will be followed-up with over the telephone in one week to obtain informed verbal consent. Baseline appointments will be booked for all eligible children. Informed written consent will be obtained at the baseline appointment before testing begins. Children will be randomized 1:1 to either the experimental or wait-list control group. Randomization will be completed using a computer algorithm. All children will be assessed pre- and post-program as well as at follow-up, 5 weeks after the completion of the program. Children in the wait-list control group will be assessed one additional time at baseline. The program will run for one hour per week for 10 consecutive weeks. Parents will be asked to complete a checklist each week indicating the number of times they practiced the activities at home. A sample size of 36 children is considered sufficient to provide 80% power to detect a medium effect size, with an alpha of 0.05. Eighteen children will be randomized to the experimental group and 18 children will be randomized to the wait-list control group.


53 patients




36 to 59 months old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

typical development

Exclusion criteria

diagnosed with any developmental delay (e.g., autism, Developmental Coordination Disorder, etc.) or health conditions that may prohibit safe participation in the program (e.g., unstable heart condition).

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

53 participants in 2 patient groups

Motor and pre-literacy program
Experimental group
First group to receive the motor and pre-literacy program.
Behavioral: Motor and pre-literacy program
Wait-list comparison
Active Comparator group
Second group to receive the motor and pre-literacy program after the experimental arm has completed the program.
Other: Wait-list Comparison

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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