SKIPing Together: A Motor Competence Intervention Promotes Gender-Integrated Friendships for Young Children

Abstract

Young children typically report primarily same-gender friendships across childhood. However, there is growing awareness of the benefits of gender-integrated friendships and gender integration in schools, especially for social-emotional domains. The current study tested whether Successful Kinesthetic Instruction for Preschoolers (SKIP), an evidence-based motor competence intervention led by physical education teachers, promotes gender-integrated friendships in preschool-aged children. Results documented that children (Mage = 47.38, SD = 6.21 months, range = 36.67–60.25 months) assigned to the SKIP condition (n = 56) as compared to a control free-play condition (n = 37) showed higher motor skill competence and were more likely to report gender-integrated friendships post intervention. Growth in girls’ reports of gender-integrated friendships, in particular, drove the intervention effect on gender-integrated friendships. These findings highlight one example of how motor competence interventions can also result in benefits in social-emotional domains.

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Correspondence to Kelly Lynn Mulvey.

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Mulvey, K.L., Miedema, S.T., Stribing, A. et al. SKIPing Together: A Motor Competence Intervention Promotes Gender-Integrated Friendships for Young Children. Sex Roles 82, 550–557 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-019-01079-z

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Keywords

  • Motor development
  • Gender integration
  • Friendships
  • Cross-group
  • Intergroup relations
  • Preschool