"Boing, Boing Like a Kangaroo": Children's Experiences of Physical Activity

Plowright-Pepper, Linda (2015). "Boing, Boing Like a Kangaroo": Children's Experiences of Physical Activity. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ef9e


The London 2012 Games promised to inspire a new generation of more physically active people. Significant investment was made into sport and physical education in preparation for the Games. However the 2012 Health Survey England survey still found that 75% of 5-7 year olds failed to meet the UK Chief Medical Officers' recommendations for daily physical activity (Eastwood, 2014:36).

Current literature identifies a range of motivations associated with physical activity and adolescents. There is a gap in child-centred research which reports what motivates children aged 5-11 years to be physically active. The aims of this small-scale qualitative study are to help fill those gaps and increase understanding of how one group of 5-11 year olds experience physical activity in their free-choice time.

An ethnomethodology and child-centred methods of data collection and analysis are used in order to build understanding from what children themselves do and say. Research is carried out with children in their holiday Activity Camp which offers a choice of screen-based, arts and crafts and sport activities. The children are observed, video and audio recorded whilst active. Photographs and drawings that they prepare about their Activity Camp are analysed and unstructured photo-elicited interviews carried out. Findings are compared with two theoretical models for encouraging participation in physical activity underpinned by Self-Determination Theory. The Sport Education Model (SEM) focuses upon PE and school sport and the Development Model for Sport Participation (DMSP) upon sport and active recreation.

It was found that this group of children experienced physical activity through socialising and exploiting their activity environment resulting in a high level of active creative play and some ‘playing at’ traditional sports. Many of the recommendations of the SEM and DMSP appear to be applicable to children’s free-choice physical activity and worthy of further research in pursuit of a more active new generation.

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