Parent and Caregivers Perceptions and Attitudes towards Children's Physical Activity and Physical Education - Results of a NZ Primary Schools Physical Activity Project
The role of parents as a positive influence on children’s attitudes towards, and participation in, physical activity through their support, encouragement, provision of opportunities to participate and through parents’ own involvement in physical activity is well documented. A pilot physical activity project was trialled in 15 primary schools in Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand, with the aim to increase the quality and quantity of children’s physical activity and physical education. To achieve these objectives physical activity co-ordinators were assigned to four schools each and lead teachers were identified in each school to undergo a professional development programme to improve their capabilities to develop and implement a quality physical education programme. Part of the evaluation of this project was to investigate parents’ perceptions and attitudes to their children’s involvement in physical activity and physical education and the changes in these perceptions and attitudes as a result of this intervention. A parent and caregivers questionnaire developed by the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education & Recreation was completed on two occasions, at the baseline (term 1, 2003) and post intervention phase (term 4, 2004) of the data collection process and completed by 336 parent/caregivers (73% return rate). Baseline results indicated that parent’s highly valued the place of physical activity in the school environment and the health benefits and social skills that physical activity provides. Respondents indicated that family, the school and enjoyment of the activity were key factors in continued participation in physical activity for children. Barriers to participation were family and work commitments and cost of activities. Analysis of specific groups post intervention indicated an improvement in attitude towards physical education programmes and an increase in the influence of friends (low decile) and role of sports clubs (NZ European) in physical activity participation. These changes post intervention in parents’ perceptions may be reflective of the impact of the physical activity co-ordinators who endeavoured to improve school and community links and of the professional development for lead teachers.