BMC Public Health
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Background: Early childhood educators (ECEs) play a critical role in promoting physical activity (PA) among preschoolers in childcare; thus, PA-related training for ECEs is essential. The Supporting PA in the Childcare Environment (SPACE) intervention incorporated: 1. shorter, more frequent outdoor play sessions; 2. provision of portable play equipment; and, PA training for ECEs. An extension of the SPACE intervention (the SPACE-Extension) incorporated only the shorter, more frequent outdoor play periods component of the original SPACE intervention. The purpose of this study was to explore the individual impact of these interventions on ECEs’ PA-related self-efficacy and knowledge. Methods: ECEs from the SPACE (n = 83) and SPACE-Extension (n = 31) were administered surveys at all intervention time-points to assess: self-efficacy to engage preschoolers in PA (n = 6 items; scale 0 to 100); self-efficacy to implement the intervention (n = 6 items); and, knowledge of preschooler-specific PA and screen-viewing guidelines (n = 2 items). A linear mixed effects model was used to analyze the impact of each intervention on ECEs’ self-efficacy and knowledge and controlled for multiple comparison bias. Results: The SPACE intervention significantly impacted ECEs’ self-efficacy to engage preschoolers in PA for 180 min/day (main effect), and when outdoor playtime was not an option (interaction effect). Further, the interaction model for ECEs’ knowledge of the total PA guideline for preschoolers approached significance when compared to the main effects model. Participants within the SPACE-Extension did not demonstrate any significant changes in self-efficacy or knowledge variables. Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight the benefit of ECE training in PA with regard to fostering their PA-related self-efficacy and knowledge. Future research should explore the impact of PA training for ECEs uniquely in order to determine if this intervention component, alone, can produce meaningful changes in children’s PA behaviours at childcare.