Physical Development in Middle Childhood

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The physical, cognitive and socio-emotional domains of human development are influenced by diverse factors. Phases of development extend from the beginnings of human life and continue throughout the lifespan. These developmental phases are characterised by a range of features including brain development, language development and social development amongst others.

Gross motor skills include activities such as running, skipping and jumping. They involve the use of the body’s larger muscle groups. Gross motor skills greatly improve in middle childhood due to increased muscle mass, strength and coordination (McDevitt and & Ormrod, 2010). These skills also improve with practice and repetition which can be provided by participation in the conventional childhood games of “chasey”, hide and seek and “Donkey” and also in organised sports and games such as netball, football and rounders.

Fine motor skills coordinate the smaller muscle groups in the body. These skills are utilised in activities such as drawing and sketching, handwriting, threading and sewing and playing a musical instrument (McDevitt and Ormrod, 2010). Physical development is sequential and predictable with present skills evolving from past skills and laying the foundations for those in the future. As a child grows and develops, past learning experiences continue to influence and affect future learning. Skills and abilities attained in early childhood are “fine-tuned” in middle childhood, resulting in ongoing motor growth and development.

Many factors influence motor development in middle childhood. Adequate nutrition is important . A proper diet supplies the brain and other essential organs with the nutritional requirements for optional functioning. Poor food choices and over-eating promote obesity which contributes to inactivity. An obese child finds it more challenging and less rewarding to participate in physical activity. A child within a healthy weight range is more likely to take part in physical activity with enthusiasm and enjoyment and will develop skills faster than the obese child (Obesity in children – causes, 2011).

Sleep is also an important factor in middle childhood. “Sleep deprived youngsters may become aggressive and depressed, have trouble concentrating, perform at low levels academically” (McDevitt and Ormrod, 2010, p. 175). If a child is having trouble concentrating it is highly unlikely that he will be able to effectively participate in general classroom activities. If a child is aggressive or depressed it is unlikely that he will want to participate in organised sport or physical activity. These factors will severely restrict his capacity to involve himself in games and activities requiring team work and cooperation. His behaviour may even become disruptive. During middle childhood it is recommended that students obtain between ten and twelve hours of sleep per night (School-age Sleep in a nutshell, 2012 ). A well-rested child finds it easier to concentrate. He has more energy to participate in all activities.

Physical activity is beneficial to the growth and development of all children. It will not only promote a healthy active child it will also give him the confidence to interact with other children and adults. A confident child is more likely to participate enthusiastically in the activities offered and reap the benefit in both his physical and social development. The child who lacks confidence is less likely to participate in physical and social activities. Low levels of physical and social activity negatively affect motor and cognitive development (Evans and Roberts, 1987). Physical activity promotes blood flow to vital organs. Blood flow helps promote muscle growth and increased brain activity. When a child has an illness and cannot attend school regularly his development may be affected. Time spent in a hospital bed is time taken from active engagement in sport and exercise (along with schoolwork and...
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