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