Pedagogical university students' competency for health protection service at preschool education establishments


PhD, Associate Professor S.I. Karabaeva1
Dr.Hab., Associate Professor L.M. Zakharova1
PhD, Associate Professor E.I. Andrianova1
Dr.Hab., Associate Professor M.M. Shubovich1
Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after V.I. Ulyanov, Ulyanovsk

Keywords: competency, tutors, health service, students, preschool educational establishment, preschoolers, educational process.

Background. The issue of the pedagogical university graduates’ competency for the preschool education service is in an increased priority in the modern national education policies in the health protection domain in the context of the new Federal State Preschool Education Standards (FSPES) and the latest preschool- and school-age health statistics showing the concerning children’s and adolescents’ health sagging trend. It is common knowledge that the basics of and need for a healthy and active lifestyle are most successfully cultivated in the underage period including basics of healthy day regimen, motor activity and hygienic procedures [3]. Good physical activity is also known to be of positive effect on the underage cognitive processes [5]. It is paramount for a successful career of a future education specialist to form a health-sensitive lifestyle and personal agenda in the academic educational period.

Based on analysis of the psychological and educational research studies with concern to the notion of competency, it may be interpreted as a prerequisite for the relevant service; or mindset (D.N. Uznadze); or preparedness for a certain professional service. Considering competency as integrative personality qualities i.e. the system of theoretical and practical knowledge and applied special skills, we would define the students’ health education service competency as the integrative personality quality that implies the relevant values-driven attitudes to (own and trainees’) health, conscientious need for physical progress, professional growth, healthy everyday activity and reflexive ability.

The students’ health education service competency shall be also considered in their general cultural and practical professional aspects. The general cultural aspect implies the values-driven attitude to health, healthy lifestyle and conscientious need for physical progress. The practical professional aspect implies the following: relevant knowledgebase in the preschool physical education in the context of the age-specific needs and qualities; and a bunch of good skills required for success in professional missions. The student’s professional competency is largely determined by the academic learning progress i.e. the accumulated knowledge and practical skills, with the competency being built up for the whole academic period. The valid standards of the bachelor academic progress in the modern pedagogical educational system set requirements to the graduates’ health education competency required to maintain own physical health for success in professional career (ОК-8) and health service to preschoolers including preschoolers’ physical training, education and healthy lifestyle formation services (OPK-6).

Objective of the study was to rate competency of the future education specialists for the preschool health education services designed to cultivate healthy lifestyles and need for physical progress in preschoolers.

Methods and structure of the study. For the study purposes we completed a questionnaire survey of the first-year Pedagogics and Psychology Department students (n=26) majoring in the Preschool Education discipline. The survey was designed to find the students’ knowledge, understanding and motivations for healthy lifestyles and physical activity. We made an attempt to find the students’ actual healthy lifestyles and physical activities and poll their opinions on what age is the most beneficial for cultivation of health lifestyles, and what factors are most influential on the children’s attitudes to healthy lifestyles.

Study results and discussion. Analysis of the anonymous questionnaire survey data showed the respondents being virtually unanimous in their interpretations of the notion of healthy lifestyle associated with the ‘lack of bad habits’, ‘full abstention form alcohol and tobacco’, sporting culture, body tempering practices, healthy day regimen, morning exercises etc. Only one student out of three considers his/her own lifestyle healthy; albeit about half of the sample (42%) confess that their lifestyles are irregular; and the same share (42%) of the sample reports being satisfied with their health.

Furthermore, half of the sample (46%) believes that diseases are due to the insufficient attention to own health, not living a healthy lifestyle (15%); and inheritance or predispositions to some diseases (11.5 %). It was further found that a regretfully small share of the sample (15%) reads publications/ websites on the matters of healthy lifestyle; a little more than a half (54%) report only occasional interest in such materials; and a quarter of the sample confesses being disinterested in such matters. Only 12% and 15% of the sample report abiding by the healthy day regimen and healthy diets, respectively; while the vast majority (81%) confesses that these practices are not regular enough; and some (16%) respondents say they have never cared about that. Curiously enough, many students named morning exercises among the healthy lifestyle elements although only one student out of twenty six (3%) reported doing it regularly; about half (46%) of the sample reports never exercising; and the other half (42%) hesitantly reported ‘doing exercises sometimes’.

Physical activity is interpreted by the sample as sporting practices, competitions in sport events, physical training practices, morning exercises and active lifestyles ‘when you never sit still’. We were glad to find that most of the sample (88%) reports keeping a healthy lifestyle in some way, including fitness training, jogging, sports, dances, skiing, gymnastics or recreational cycling practices. Virtually every respondent believes that children shall be engaged in a healthy lifestyle since the ‘early days’ albeit the specific ages are different, with some of them mentioning the postnatal period; most of the sample – three years of age as a starting point for practices; and some believe that the senior school age is the best to start.

As reported by the sample, their first concepts of healthy lifestyle were mostly formed by their family lifestyles and positive examples, with the key lifestyle elements including healthy diets, day regimen and physical practices. It was concerning that 42% of the sample failed to mention the factors of influence on the preschool children’s attitudes to the health protection matters. These and other findings of the survey may be interpreted as indicative of the students still underestimating these competences and own role in the healthy lifestyle cultivation in children and their families for success of their future professional service. For the health competency building in the future professional preschool education specialists for success of their preschool health service, we developed the staged competency building model, with the following stages: general cultural, practical educational and reflexive ones, as provided by the model curriculum: see Table 1 hereunder.

Table 1. Health competency building stages in future preschool education specialists

Competency building stage

Class and off-class curricula


General cultural stage

Academic Physical Education discipline; contributions to health days, sport competitions etc.

Acquire knowledge and skills in a wide variety of physical practices for own and others’ progress

Practical educational stage

Basics of infantile and preschool pediatrics and hygiene; Preschool-age pedagogics (physical education);  Preschool physical education theory and technologies; Children’s physical progress monitoring course; and actual practices

Develop basic theoretical and practical knowledge of health practices with the relevant values and motivations in every health domain; and apply the competences and skills for practical solutions of educational and cultural problems

Due competency for the graduates being well prepared to solve different physical education and development process tasks can unlikely be formed by the theoretical and model educational process only. Practice-driven component of the bachelor educational process implies the theoretical knowledge being tested and supported by actual practice. The existing educational practices imply the students being engaged on a systemic basis in practical teaching activities for the whole academic educational period, with a considerable part of these practices of the junior students in preschool groups designed to address the children’s physical education and health protection matters.

Goals of the practices at preschool education establishments are set so as to secure the students being duly competent for the health education service at kindergartens. Their education practice assisted and exemplified by senior education specialists with the relevant process monitoring and analyses help the students realize and test their own resources, knowledge and skills in the practical teaching process. The analyses also help them set priorities in their own teaching process designs including indoor and outdoor practices, plus individualized health education paths for preschoolers [4].

Further practices to excel the professional knowledge and skills and accumulate practical experience in senior academic courses help the students make further progress in the health protection knowledge and skills viewed among the key indicators of the professional competency for the actual service. In addition, such practices are used to accumulate the experimental databases required for the course/ graduate works. In their practical studies of the subjects, the students develop due understanding of how important the preschool physical activity is for the children’s multisided development process including the health and intellectual development aspects. Students analyze, among other things, methods and benefits of different preschool physical education practices; explore potential of team/ game practices in formation of the children’s interest in healthy lifestyles; and methods to develop due motivations for physical culture. The future education specialists realize in such practices that active games with their emotional backgrounds facilitate the children being naturally involved in solving the physical challenges in their team games, keep up their interest in the process and encourage the preschoolers’ cognitive, emotional and volitional progress [1].

To further excel the students’ health competency, we offer a special Health Technologies in Preschool Education course designed to cultivate active health agendas in students and help them acquire good practical skills for their own health improvement via healthy lifestyles to mobilize and develop own health resource for success in their professional service; and to develop the values and motivations for the professional health education service with the relevant health program design and management skills applicable in the preschool education system [2].

We believe that for the health competency development process to be successful, the following key provisions are needed: integrated system for the general cultural and professional competences being developed with the theoretical and practical learning processes being duly harmonized; open educational environment to encourage practical contributions of students to the health education and practical teaching activities in the academic education period; and the health educational process must be supported with the personal and professional values and motivations for healthy lifestyle and physical progress.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses showed that the students are generally competent for the health protection service in the cognitive domain albeit more often than not tend to consider the relevant practical competences as ‘shelved for the future’. At every stage of the health educational process, a special priority is recommended to be given to the professional and personal needs and motivations of the students to be duly harmonized.


  1. Zakharova L.M., Zakharova V.V. Vliyanie fizicheskoy aktivnosti na poznavatelnoe razvitie detey starshego doshkolnogo vozrasta [Exercise and cognitive development of senior preschoolers]. Pedagogiko-psikhologicheskie i mediko-biologicheskie problemy fizicheskoy kultury i sporta, 2017, vol. 12, no.3, pp.136-143
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  4. Rusina E.I., Zakharova L.M., Silakova M.M. Psikhologo-pedagogicheskie aspekty sotsiokulturnogo vospitaniya doshkolnikov [Psychological and pedagogical aspects of socio-cultural education of preschoolers]. Sovremennye problemy nauki i obrazovaniya, 2009, no. 1, pp. 79-80.
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It is common knowledge that the basics of and need for a healthy and active lifestyle are most successfully cultivated in the underage period. The valid FSPES set forth five priority preschool development components including the physical development one. Success of the preschool physical development and healthy lifestyle formation service largely depends on the competency of future education specialists. A questionnaire survey of the Pedagogics and Psychology Department students showed the sample still underestimating the need for due professional competency and personal determination for the healthy lifestyle related values to be successfully cultivated in children and their families. The survey data and analyses of the future preschool education specialists’ competency for the health education service were used to consider every process stage including general cultural, practical educational and reflexive ones. The study outlined potential resources of the education disciplines for the preschool education specialists’ competency building process.