Supporting Preschoolers’ Motor Development in Virtual Environments: Listening to Teachers’ Voices

W. Catherine Cheung, Michaelene M. Ostrosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Going down a slide, dancing to music, and pushing someone on a tire swing are more than simply “play activities” or a means to staying physically fit. Engagement in motor play provides important opportunities for preschoolers to develop a variety of skills, including gross motor, social, communication, and cognitive skills. However, during the past several years, since the identification of the COVID-19 virus, no guidelines have been available to ensure that gross motor content is addressed while simultaneously meeting the educational needs of preschoolers with and without disabilities during virtual learning. The purpose of this study was to understand the benefits and challenges that 26 preschool teachers faced as they attempted to embed motor play into their curriculum during virtual learning. All teachers worked in inclusive preschool settings and interviews were conducted between March-June 2021. Constant comparative analysis and emergent coding were used to interpret the data. Findings revealed that school readiness skills were the primary focus of virtual learning. Teachers indicated that motor play can help expand students’ pre-academic skills, be fun and motivating for children, and help students be more focused and attentive. Some logistical barriers (e.g., technology, limited physical spaces, limited resources) need to be addressed in order to successfully teach motor play in a virtual format. Study findings suggest policies and guidelines need to be established to provide young children with high quality and accessible virtual instruction. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEarly Childhood Education Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Motor
  • Preschooler
  • Teachers
  • Virtual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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