Motor competence and physical fitness among children attending nature preschools and traditional preschools

Lysklett O. B., Berg A., Moe B.


The purpose of the study is to compare motor skills and the physical fitness of children who attend different nature kindergartens with children who attend different traditional kindergartens in the same local area.


The study showed that there was no difference in motor skills between children in nature kindergartens and children in traditional kindergartens. Children in traditional kindergartens performed somewhat better on some aspects of the physical fitness test than children in nature kindergartens.

Similarities between the kindergartens’ access to nature and the potential opportunities for physical play, and how these are used, may be a possible explanation regarding the result. Another possible explanation is that the tests used in this study could potentially be more appropriate for children who spend much of their time outdoors in a typical playground rather than in nature.


The study’s respondents are 92 children aged 5-6 years old, 53 boys and 39 girls, from 4 nature kindergartens and 4 traditional kindergartens in the same local area. The nature kindergartens have chosen to define themselves as nature kindergartens, while the other kindergartens have no specialisation. The children in the sample had attended their respective kindergartens for at least 1 year. All the kindergartens were municipal and located close to a large recreational area that offered many outdoor opportunities. All of the kindergartens used this area. The nature kindergartens used this area at least 3 times a week, while the other kindergartens used it once a week.

The children’s motor skills were measured using MABC-2, while the children’s physical fitness was measured using a test specifically designed for this. The children then received a numerical score for each test, which formed the basis for the comparisons regarding the analyses. In addition, the children’s height and weight were measured.


Lysklett, O. B., Berg, A. & Moe B. (2019). "Motor competence and physical fitness among children attending nature preschools and traditional preschools". International Journal of Play, 8(1):53-64.

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