Why are we doing this study?

The purpose of the study is to develop and evaluate the PROmoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO), which is designed to build support for outdoor play in early childcare centre settings. We aim to increase the time children spend playing outside and the quality of their play. We will be researching how these changes influence the children’s play and their wellbeing.

Your child is being invited to take part in this study because your child is enrolled in a YMCA of Greater Vancouver (YMCAGV) early childcare centre and is aged 3-5 years.

How the study will be done?

The study involves training of the early childhood educators in supporting outdoor play and bringing in plants and other materials into the play space. We will be monitoring the children at play before and after the playground change. These changes will only be done in half of the participating centres (Intervention Group). The other half will continue as they are now (Control Group).

If you agree for your child to participate, you will be asked to complete a demographic questionnaire. Demographic questions are asked to understand general background information about your child and family (e.g., sex, age), and your early childcare centre (e.g., approximately how long your child has been enrolled in their centre). You can choose not to answer any questions you are not comfortable answering. The demographic questionnaire can take up to 10 minutes to complete.

We will be collecting data at your child’s centre from September-November 2021, and February-November 2022. Data collection includes:

  1. Video behaviour observation: Children will be video-recorded during outdoor play time. This is to understand how environments support children’s outdoor play. We will be looking at behaviours such as how they play and what they choose to play with, and their social interactions with other children.
  2. Social-emotional questions: We will be asking your child’s early childhood educators about your child and other children’s behaviour on the playground. They will also complete two questionnaires about each child: the Preschool Social Behavior Scale measures aggression and prosocial behaviour; the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire measures relationships with other children, feelings and attention.
  3. Child activity: Children will use iPad game “Mr. Ant” to test visual/spatial working memory. We will ask them to remember the locations of “stickers” placed on a cartoon ant. They will identify these locations after a brief time and the level will increase in difficulty.

Your child’s centre will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups: 1) Control group, or, 2) Intervention group. Your centre could be assigned to either group.

If your child’s centre is assigned to the Control group, their centre will deliver their usual practice until the end of the study.

If your child’s centre is assigned to the Intervention group, their centre will receive changes to the outdoor play space in November and December 2021. Centres in the Control group will have the option of receiving these changes after the end of the study.

Follow-up data collection will take place February - November 2022.

Contact for information about the study

If you have any questions or concerns about what we are asking of your child, please contact Dr. Mariana Brussoni at mbrussoni@bcchr.ca or 604-875-3712, or Dawn Mount, research manager at dmount@bcchr.ca or 604-875-2433.

Contact for concerns about the rights of research subjects

If you have any concerns or complaints about your child’s rights as a research participant and/or your child’s experiences while participating in this study, contact the Research Participant Complaint Line in the University of British Columbia Office of Research Ethics by e-mail at RSIL@ors.ubc.ca or by phone at 604-822-8598 (Toll Free: 1-877-822-8598). Please reference the study number (H20-03912) when contacting the Complaint Line so the staff can better assist you.

For complete information on the study, please read the attached study cover letter.

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