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Effects of Physical Activity on Young Children’s Effortful Control
The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of physical activity on young children’s ability in effortful control. A quasi-experimental study design was used to explore the differences in the performance of effortful control tasks of young children in the experimental group and the control group. A total of one hundred and five children, aged between twenty-five to thirty-five months old, participated in this study. They were from five normal distribution classes in the five public childcarecenters in New Taipei City. Their parents were residents in New Taipei City who enrolled in centers by draw lots. After obtaining the consents of the public daycare centers, directors, teachers, and parents to participate in the study, sixty-two children from three classes in three public daycare centers were selected as the experimental group, and forty-three of the two classes in the other two public daycare centers were the control groups. After testing, the children in the experimental group and those in the control group were homogeneous in gender, age, and family and social distribution. With the intervention of the physical activity programs, the children in the experimental group received the children’s physical activity compiled by the researcher for eight consecutive weeks, five days per week, and thirty minutes in the morning time every day. The children in the control group carried out the former learning activities. The ability of young children’s effortful control was tested by the "Snack Delay" test, the “Fish Task”, the "Simon Says Task", and the "Continuous Performance Test, CPT " on the pre-test, the post-test, and the three weeks after the post post-test. The results of this study were as follows: 1. Compared with the control group, the experimental intervention of young children's physical activity has a significant effect of immediate change on the "Simon Says Task". 2. Compared with the control group three weeks after the experiment, the improvement of effort control in the experimental group still has a significant retention effect on the "Simon Says Task." 3. The experimental intervention of the children's physical activity had the significant effect on the young children in the experimental group. After the experiment and three weeks after the end of the experimental activity, the young children of the experimental group have better scores on the "Simon Says Task" and the “Continuous Performance Test, CPT" significantly. 4. With the experimental intervention of young children's physical activity, different aged children of the experimental group have had obvious differences in the performance of the effort to control in the "Fish Task". Children in the thirty-one to thirty-five months old group scored higher than those in the twenty-five and thirty months old group. 5. With the experimental intervention of young children's physical activity, genders, family and social economic statuses of the children in the experimental group were not significantly related to their performance in effortful control.
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