TABLE 1

Sample Questions Used in Focus Groups That Elicited Teachers’ Concerns That Safety, Budgets, and a Focus on Academics May Hamper Children’s Physical Activity in Child Carea

1. What are some types of activities that children in your center engage in that increases their heart rate? (including indoor and outdoor games)
2. How are outside games different than inside games?
 o How are outside rules different from inside rules?
3. What are some possible benefits to children being outside?
 o Probe on whatever they mention (expect: a learning tool, exposure to nature, calming tool, health promotion, or preventing illness).
4. What are some possible disadvantages to children being outside?
 o Probe on whatever they mention (expect: injuries, catching a cold/getting sick, less control over the children).
5. In your opinion, what is the role of physical activity or active play in child care? How important do you think it is for the children? (Probe on whatever is mentioned, and encourage participants to react to what others have said.)
6. Place pictures of three preschool playgrounds where all participants can see them. Look at these three pictures of playgrounds. Think about how you might use these playgrounds with the children under your care. Starting with picture #1:
 ○ What are some positive features of this playground, starting with the children's perspective?
 ○ In what ways is the playground attractive to you as a teacher/child care provider?
 ○ What are some of the disadvantages of this playground compared with the other pictures, or compared with other playgrounds you know?
 ○ Optional probes:
  • What would make the playground more attractive to you? (Clarification or follow-up: What could be changed in the playground to make you want to spend more time there?)
  • What would make it more attractive to the children you care for?
  • (If it hasn't already been discussed) Now think about your responsibilities in supervising and instructing the children. How easy or difficult do you think it would be to supervise children on this playground, and what would you change about it?
7. Now think about the playground at your preschool or child care center, or another playground that you are intimately familiar with.
 ○ What do the children like about your playground?
 ○ What are some things you like about your playground as a teacher/child care provider?
 ○ What are some disadvantages of or problems with your playground?
 ○ What would make the playground better, to make it more attractive to you or to make you want to spend more time there?
 ○ What would make the playground more attractive to the children you care for?
 ○ In what ways is it difficult to supervise the children on your playground? What could be changed to make it easier?
8. What types of things keep you from using your playground sometimes? Probe on the following in whatever order the participants mention them
 ○ What types of weather keep children from going outside or using your playground?
  • What do you do on days that weather or other things keep you from going outside? (expect to hear at least some participants mention an indoor
   gross-motor room)
 ○ Tell me about your interaction with parents regarding taking the children outside. Do parents encourage you to take children outside?
  • Have parents ever said or done anything in the past that makes it difficult for you to take the children outside? (expect to hear: improperly dressed, parents’ request not to take children outside due to injury or fear of getting sick) In response to parent behaviors mentioned:
  • How do you handle that?
  • How do you feel about that behavior?
9. What kind of policies does your center have about using the playground, including weather conditions, playground schedule?
 ○ For those with and those without weather policies, how is the decision usually made about whether to take the children outside? (eg, left up to individual teacher discretion, or the director decides?)
 ○ How is outside time, playground time, and indoor muscle room time scheduled at your center? (Clarification: Do you have set times you are allowed to use the playground?)
  • Optional probe if they mention set times: What happens if it’s raining during your set time?
  • Optional probe if they mention conflicts with other teachers about their designated time on the playground: How did you feel about that, how did you handle that?
 ○ What rules if any does your center have about physical activities such as running, climbing, and jumping in the classrooms?
10. Think about all the rules and policies we’ve mentioned. If you could change the policies or rules at your center, what would you change about them?
 ○ (optional probe) What do you think about the rules and policies at other center that you’ve heard mentioned?
11. How do you think licensing regulations affect children’s physical activity?
 ○ Follow up if needed: For instance, How do Safety requirements for playground equipment affect children’s physical activity on playgrounds?
 ○ Ratio requirements for different age groups on the same playground?
 ○ Licensing regulations regarding weather?
12. Can you think of anything that we haven’t already discussed that may sometimes keep children from being physically active?
13. What could be done at your center to get the children to be more active? With ideas offered, ask participants what they think about the ideas, how they would react if the suggested intervention occurred at their center
  • a For each of the questions, nonspecific and nonleading probes were used to follow up on any ideas expressed. Examples of these probes were “Tell me more about that,” or “Can you provide an example?”