DIFFERENCES IN THE PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT OF PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN BY GENDER
The primary aim of this study is to gain an insight into the “real situation” and to identify gender differences related to physical development among early primary school-aged children in order to reestablish and improve the monitoring system, and make the current school curriculums better. This research included the sample of 447 students (216 boys and 231 girls which was extracted from a population of pupils from five elementary schools, aged 7, 8, 9 and 10 years. Body weight and body height (standing height) was measured according to international standards for anthropometric assessment in a private setting while students were dressed in sports clothing, in the morning hours. Body mass index (BMI) was mathematically estimated according with the equation BMI=weight/height2 (kg/m2). At the level of the sample of respondents from 1st to 4th grade in relation to gender, except for the variables of body height and body weight in the 4th grade, the results of all investigated indicators show that higher values were measured in male respondents. Statistically significant differences were found for the following subspaces in relation to the observed subsample: in relation to gender and in relation to the 1st grade for body weight F=3.979, p=0.048 and for body mass index (BMI) F=6.315, p=0.013, while in relation to 2nd grade, the difference was found in body height F=4.324, p=0.040. There were no statistically significant differences in the observed characteristics of physical development among students of the 3rd and 4th grade. The obtained results on qualitative and quantitative gender differences in physical development in early school age, in addition to theoretical ones, can also have practical significance. Given that this is the age at which the formation of healthy lifestyle habits in children can be significantly influenced, the data of this research can significantly contribute to the adequate organization and implementation of both continuing physical education and extracurricular physical activities of children of the observed age.