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Table 1 The AEL program components, frequency and description

From: A peer coach intervention in childcare centres enhances early childhood physical activity: The Active Early Learning (AEL) cluster randomised controlled trial

AEL program componentsa Week of introduced components Description and typical duration
1. Group/mat time and Transitions 1 to 4 Group/Mat time: daily periods when children are gathered together, movement experiences with a focus on fundamental movement skill; 5 to 20 min.
Example: Educator holds up pictures of animals or objects and children explore associated movements, such as frog’s jump, rocks’ stillness.
Transitions: periods between different centre events e.g. arrival at the centre, moving from inside to outside, or from group time to meal tables with a focus on movement creativity and exploration; 1 to 5 min.
Example: Children mimic their favourite animal as they move from mat time to hand washing.
2. Movement education 5 to 8 Educator guided individual or group physical activity challenges which may involve equipment, sports and games; 10–20 min.
Example: Games incorporating balls and other equipment; obstacle course challenges
3. Cross-curricular movement education 9 to 12 Activities complementing the day’s curriculum learning theme; usually integrating a story and book reading; 20–30 min.
Example: Children are read a story about the circus. The educator guides children to discuss and perform circus movements such as walking along a line of tape (tight rope walking), exploring bean bags (juggling).
4. Encourage challenging free play 13 to 16 Educator enhancement of free-time active play to promote exploration and opportunities to develop confidence and risk assessment skill with challenging play; 10–30 min. Challenging play in this study was communicated to educators as using movement to explore boundaries and test children’s limits.
Example: Coach and educators discuss and then encourage challenging play using a selected piece of outdoor equipment (such as a balance beam or slide) while taking safety precautions.
  1. aIntervention components 1 to 4 are re-introduced concurrently by childcare educators during weeks 17 to 22, with daily inclusion of components 1 to 2 (or 3)