Research information provided by: B. Atwood, OTS; S. Flathers, OTS; E. G. Maruca, OTS; and A. VanderStaay, OTS; Springfield College
Currently, the Bogin Play Scape Project is in its early stages. According to the “Project Plan,” it is in Phase 1 “Problem Scoping and Investigation.” This phase involves observing and investigating preschool children across settings; this includes research into some of the areas of interest related to this project.
Research was completed by Occupational Therapy (OT) graduate level students from Springfield College. The areas investigated include:
- The importance of exercise and physical activity for preschool children
- Trends in referrals for Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy in pre-school aged children over the past 10-20 years
- Analysis of supports and threats to the project as a whole
The importance of exercise and physical activity for preschool children
Research conducted on determining the importance of physical activity and exercise suggests that physical play for preschool children has the potential to improve all aspects of children’s well-being including physical, emotional, social, and cognitive aspects. Research also suggests that gross motor play, whether done outdoors or indoors, is essential for normal development of skills. Furthermore, research suggests that motor skill delays in young children are a high indicator of obesity and other health related problems. Overall, multiple research studies conclude that exercise through physical play is critical for preschool aged children to develop at a proper rate, be healthy, and learn.
Trends in referrals for PT/OT in preschool aged children over the past 10-20 years
Recent studies analyzing the incidence of OT/PT referrals are limited. However, there has been an increase in the prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) among preschool children. Many studies have been investigating the prevalence rates and have found that the number of children diagnosed with PDD has increased significantly over the last decade. Whether this is due to biological factors or lack of proper motor stimulation (play) has not yet been determined. However, the increasing prevalence suggests that many more preschool aged children are going to require PT/OT intervention.
Analysis of supports and threats to the project as a whole
Analysis of the data reviewed reflecting the supports and threats to the project revealed that there has been a lot of research on the benefits of play. The large interest in the area could be related to the possible benefits of proving that play is an essential part of the learning process for children. It stands to reason that companies who would profit from selling equipment to schools and the private sector would have a large stake in this information, but this is merely speculation.
Some threats to the company include liability related issues. Research reveals that schools have been cutting down on outdoor play because of fear of injury. It also suggests that this fear is leading to cut backs on “free play time,” which is some of the most crucial for development. The decrease in free play time is nearly 25% less than in the 1980’s.
Overall, research in the key areas of interest contributes to a positive outlook for the Bogin Play Scape Project. Areas of support include the overwhelming evidence supporting the importance of play in the developmental project of preschool aged children. Also it is evident that developmental delays in this population are increasing, which will inevitably increase the need for OT’s as well as the equipment the Bogin Project plans to create. The threats to the project seem limited but create cause for concern. Legal and liability issues may halter the productivity of this project, but the strengths seem to outweigh the cons at this point.
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