Within the grades kindergarten to grade 2 and the ages between 4-7, an extensive amount of growth physically and physiologically takes place in a child. This goes hand in hand with children beginning primary school and the time in which their extensive educational years begin. For this time of their lives to be successful in them gaining physical and physiological growth, Children need to be encouraged and supported in improving further their gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Along with encouraging learning environments that support physical development and health and well being awareness, so students can excel in their physical and physiological growth. Gross motor skills refers to “large movements of the body that permits locomotion through and within the environment” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 159) this includes actions like running, hopping, and climbing. However smaller and more intricate movements made with particular parts of the body, mainly the hands, are classified as fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills include activities such as manipulating small objects like drawing with a crayon or cutting with scissors. Students in grades kindergarten to grade 2 are between the early childhood and middle childhood developmental periods. Physical movement is a large component of early childhood and within gross motor skills and fine motor skills dramatic changes occur, where as in middle childhood, children work to improve on these skills supported by physiological maturation and cognitive advances. The development of both gross and fine motor skills is influenced by culture-specific and environment factors of the student’s life.
Especially in early childhood, children will pick up skills that are within the culture and environment they grow up in. This includes gross motor skills such as ball sports that include throwing, catching and kicking a ball or even skills in dance or gymnastics. These skills then become smoother and better coordinated the more the children use them. The growth and gain of motor skills often results in a strong sense of accomplishment and happiness within the children. Where early childhood age groups may run around for the ure joy of it, middle childhood age groups build on their physical capabilities and put these skills into organized games and sports.
Often children will take up a weekend sport like soccer or netball and improve their skills with professional coaching and becoming proficient in athletic skills. This is rewarding for the children and offers them a sense of achievement within themselves. Children of the early childhood ages make major strides in fine motor skills, daily tasks skills such as undressing and dressing themselves and eating with utensils themselves are developed.
Often individual differences in children are noticed in the early childhood period through fine motor skill developments, some children take interest in putting things together like puzzles, others may find an interest in creative work such as drawing, writing and cutting. It is evident in some cases that girls develop fine motor skills earlier and quicker then boys (Gabbard, 1999, p. 132). It is also evident that there is a tendency for children born with certain chromosomal conditions and those exposed to alcohol during pregnancy to have delays in fine motor skill development (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 61).
If a class had students with these learning difficulties, or if signs were showing of delayed fine motor skills development, extra time and attention would be needed when building on these children’s skills. Perhaps different tasks would need to be set for different skill levels within the one class. As students merge from early childhood to middle childhood periods there fine motor skills will improve further and create increasing individuality within a child. Drawings usually become more detailed and of certain interest to the child and handwriting become smaller, smoother and usually more consistent.
Children will also start to develop certain interests in fine motor skill activities, that better suit the individual child such as arts and crafts projects, story writing, sewing, building things with blocks or lego, or event counting or grouping objects. Teachers should be aware of individual children’s interests and encourage them to build on their fine motor skills with activities tailored to their interests. Physical activity is an essential part of every child’s day.
Children often derive considerable pleasure from it and it allows them to get a healthy release of energy before and after intellectually demanding tasks. For young children, physical activity is so enjoyable that they become even more active during the early years of primary school. Activity level then decreases in middle childhood sometimes by as much as 50 percent (Campbell, Eaton, McKeen & Mitsutake, 1999). Children need physical activity as they grow and learn, unfortunately children are not always given sufficient outlets to move and this can have a negative impact on their education.
Teachers need to understand and consider on a day to day basis that children are unable to sit and concentrate for long periods of time. Children need regular breaks in learning and sufficient active play in these breaks to burn off energy (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 171). It is evident that even in instances where children have a chance to get up, if only for a few minutes, to collect their learning materials for the next learning task, they are then able to settle into the next learning task smoothly and with concentration.
Children often need a significant ending to one topic of learning before they can begin the next topic. Physical education classes are planned classes that allow students to get physical activity regularly whilst also being instructed and learning new skills. However, primary school students spend less than 10 percent of class time in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Research shows that children need to reach moderate to vigorous physical activity, for children to burn of the energy needed to then concentrate in class (Simmons-Morton, Taylor, Snider & Huang, 1993).
Physical activity can be encouraged through organized sports and individual athletic activity. Sports can help children to develop communication, cooperation and leadership skills. However there can be a downside to organized sports and the unhealthy competition adults sometimes promote. Adults can put excessive pressure on children to perform well, they can also take the enjoyment out of the sports for many children and cause them to overexercise and sometimes become injured.
Parents can often be over critical of their children in regards to their physical and sporting ability, this can often create a sense of self doubt in the child’s mind that can also be transferred onto their academic ability also (Lusk, 2004, p. 43). It is also the case that team sports are not for everyone, and some children excel in individual athletic activities. Children who engage in individual sports often still get time spent with peers, even though they do not participate in a team sport.
It is important to remember that all hildren are different, and will need physical activity in a range of different activities. If just academic education is focussed on, children will often suffer and not perform to the best of their ability. Physical activity and academic education need to be in moderation for students to gain the most out of their early and middle childhood periods. To support a healthy education and physical development of students, teachers must create a learning environment that helps to support all children to extend and grow in moderation; both gross and fine motor skills and their physical ability as well.
Children will develop skills at different rates so it is important to have a range of gross and motor activities, in a range of different skill levels. This is to cater to all children, from some of the most advanced students to the students who are experiencing delayed development. The classroom environment should not just exist inside; teachers should be encouraged to use outdoor learning areas and to incorporate physical activity into their day-to-day lesson plans (Gabbard, 1999, p. 144).
A happy and friendly environment should be created within team and individual sports, so that the students/children do not feel pressure to perform well, more to do their best and to enjoy the activity. This helps to create a better self esteem for children and allows them to live with a healthier and happier frame of mind. Teachers of students falling into the early childhood and middle childhood development periods, have the ability to accommodate the physical and physiological needs of all students within the class.
This is done by encouraging students of all development levels to build on and practice gross motor skills and fine motor skills with activities that the individual student has an interest in. Teachers must also be aware of the complications and impact prolonged physical inactivity has upon a students ability to learn academically. Teachers should try to incorporate physical activity into daily lessons so to facilitate to a students physical development as well as their physiological development.
The learning environment created by teachers should support the child in all areas of development and never in anyway make the students feel pressured to perform well, but only to try their best. Children of the early childhood and middle childhood development periods, need support and encouragement from their teacher. This allows students to succeed in all areas and to efficiently and affectively grow and excel in physical development and physiological development so to support them in health and well being.
Subject: Developmental psychology,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 2 January 2017
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