Effect of Motor Development on Personal Development

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Understanding motor development can be a very important part of understanding how people grow and develop overall. This lesson discusses the relationship between motor growth and other aspects of personal development.

Thinking About Motor Development

As a physical education teacher, Ava sometimes wonders about how the work she does influences children across the curriculum. In PE, Ava thinks a lot about motor development, or how children grow and change in their capacities to move their bodies.

Motor development encompasses gross motor, or use of large muscle groups, as well as fine motor, or manipulation and coordination of small muscle groups. Ava knows that gross and fine motor development make a difference in students' ability to succeed in her class, but she also knows that motor development can benefit her students in other domains.

Effects on Cognitive Development

Talking to some of her colleagues, Ava starts to think about how motor development influences cognitive development, or learning to think and learn.

She realizes that in early childhood, kids develop language based on their needs for movement and also the objects they can and cannot hold and manipulate. Young children develop cognitively as they learn the vocabulary they need to describe different kinds and styles of movement.

As kids get older, their motor development enables them to have different experiences that can impact cognition. For instance, a student who loves to run will also learn to keep track of his running times, how his muscle groups work, which famous runners have been around the world, and where in his community he can run.

In other words, there are relationships between gross motor development and learning language, mathematical concepts, science, and social studies.

Ava also knows that students' fine motor development is essential in enabling them to write, build with blocks, and participate in other scholastic activities that allow them to learn new content and skills.

Effects on Social and Emotional Development

Next, Ava starts thinking about how motor development can influence students' social and emotional development.

One thing she has noticed is that students who are slow to develop motor skills sometimes have low self-esteem, or a poor sense of themselves. This can be because they compare themselves to more advanced peers, because they develop poor body image, or because they see themselves as incompetent.

In her classroom, Ava strives to help all children understand that it is important to respect everyone's growth trajectory and that we all move and change in different ways. At the same time, she thinks it is important to help children who are slower to develop in the motor domains to gain the skills they need to participate in activities and also feel good about themselves, their bodies, and their abilities.

Many of the games that children play socially involve gross and fine motor skills. As children get older, the expectations for motor capacity in social participation grow. For example, when kindergarten students play tag, they move more slowly and turn with less agility than fourth-graders playing the same game.

Effects on Fitness

Because she is foremost a PE teacher, Ava is especially interested in the ways her students' motor development can influence their fitness, or overall physical well-being.

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