Teaching and learning in Schools
Physical Development between the age range of 3-7 years olds
Physical development provides children with the abilities they need to explore and interact with the world around them. It is also about improving the skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement, although the age at which they achieve them may differ from child to child. The physical development of young children must be encouraged through the provision of opportunities for them to be active and interactive and to improve their skills. They must be supported in using all of their senses to learn about the world around them and to make connections between new information and what they already know. They must be supported in developing an understanding of the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices in relation to food. Early development of children's intellectual, social and physical abilities has the potential to affect their long term achievement, beyond the initial introduction to the classroom, through their school lives and into adulthood. A greater understanding of the processes at work in these early years and their role in later success is therefore important to ensure that resources are appropriately targeted. I have been working with children in my placement who are developing skills through a wide range of physical activities, these may be gross motor skills such as beginning to walk, or fine motor skills like holding a pencil.
A child’s physical development depends just as much on their upbringing as it does on nature. On the one hand a child is born with a genetic map that will guide such matters as height and general muscle development but on the other the child’s surroundings will influence overall health and activity levels which contribute to physical development. Problems with a child’s development can be an indication that the child may have some learning difficulties.
In order for children to further their physical development, they must practice the many skills that will ultimate lead to gross motor control, fine motor control and overall balance and coordination. Gross motor skills involve whole body movement. Learning to run and jump requires strength, suppleness, stamina and lots of practice. The Development of gross motor skills include:
Walking, running and climbing. Hopping, skipping and jumping. Sliding, dancing, and swimming. Bending, stretching and carrying large objects. Pushing and pulling toys. Ball skills - rolling, kicking, throwing and catching.
Awareness of body in space. Exploring movement in space. Experiencing speed. Balance and co-ordination. Control of body.
Manoeuvring equipment - tricycles, bikes, cars, carts and prams.
Fine manipulative skills are a precise use of the hands in co ordination with the eyes, and also include:
Dexterity using equipment - gripping, holding, drawing, colouring, painting, tracing, writing, cutting, gluing, threading, sewing, building. Exploring sand, water and dough - touching, poking, feeling, squeezing, pouring, filling, emptying. Using tools in woodwork and construction - hammering, tapping, sawing. Playing musical instruments.
Social skill using a spoon, fork and knife. Dressing and undressing - using zips, buttons and laces.
For children to master their gross motor skills they should be encouraged to engage in activities that offer them the chance to walk, run, jump, and throw – outdoor activities are particularly suited to these skills. To master their fine motor skills, children should be encouraged to participate in stereotypical indoor activities such as cutting paper, writing, drawing and colouring. Coordination and balance can be practised in most children’s activities, riding wheeled toys, balancing along benches and skipping. Children should be encouraged to participate in a wide and varied spectrum of activities each day which will give them the best chance to round off all...
References: Louise Burnham (2006). The Teaching Assistants Handbook. Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers. 2.
Lave, J (1988) Cognition in Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bee, H (1997) The Developing Child, Addison Wesley Publication
Barshaw & Farrell (2003) Teaching Assistants, London: David Fulton Publishers
Burnham, L (2003) The Teaching Assistants Handbook, Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers
Meggitt, C (2006) Child Development, Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers
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