Physical or emotional scaffolding in a difficult motor task: What is better with 5-year-old children?


  • Guido Francesco Fumagalli University of Verona, Italy
  • Patrizia Tortella Free University of Bolzano, Italy
  • Roberto Coppola University of Enna "Kore", Italy
  • Francesco Sgrò University of Enna "Kore", Italy


Scaffolding, Motor competence, Physical activity, Kindergarten, Playground, Executive functions


Engagement in difficult motor tasks promotes development of executive functions (EFs) (Diamond, 2020; Davis et al., 2011). In this study we analysed the effects of different types of scaffold on children exposed to a difficult motor task. Methodology. One hundred, 5 years old children from 2 kindergartens were engaged in a specific motor program for 1 hour/week for 10 weeks. The program included learning a difficult motor task (walking on an unstable bar) for which the instructor provided physical or physical + emotional scaffold. In addition, children were divided in two groups based on their initial level of capacity to perform the task. Levels of EFs were measured by the Day & Night test at the beginning and at the end of the training period. Data were analysed by two-way ANOVA. Results. The data suggest that in expert children the emotional support fosters the effect of the difficult task on the performance of the Day & Night test; while in beginners the emotional support counteracts the effects of physical scaffold resulting in a null effect on EF development. Conclusions. The data point to specificity of scaffold procedures for combining motor and cognitive development.


This research was supported by Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano CONI-Treviso and A.S.D. Laboratorio 0246, Treviso, Italy


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How to Cite

Fumagalli, G. F., Tortella, P., Coppola, R., & Sgrò, F. (2020). Physical or emotional scaffolding in a difficult motor task: What is better with 5-year-old children?. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 15(4proc), S1437-S1445. Retrieved from

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