Motor Skills Overview
We help children to develop their gross and fine motor skills, moving with control and co-ordination
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Physicality is central to the ethos of MAD Academy and it infuses many of our activities across all class components. This is because we understand that children need to be physically active for their own enjoyment and well-being. Also learning is much more effective when combined with movement. However the Motor Skills Learning Element enables us to focus more directly on the development of specific, important gross and fine motor skills.
Motor Skills are vitally important in the development of children and begins when babies are in the womb. Physical control, strength and co-ordination develops in young babies from the top down, starting with the head, neck, back, core, arms, legs, with fine motor skills associated with fingers and toes coming last. But they need lots and lots of physical stimulation in order to develop their motor skills. They also need to be physically active in order to understand how their body is put together (where their bodies begin and end) and how it relates to the world around them (spatial awareness)
This repeated physical activity and stimulation must continue throughout childhood as children’s motor skills develop over many years, and again well into their teens. There is growing concern among experts that our sedentary lifestyle is inhibiting children’s natural physical development which is having a huge impact on their well being. Opportunities for physical play are harder to find, while sedentary activities are much easier to access, such as the TV and computer. Also babies and toddlers tend to be increasingly restricted in prams, high chairs etc. This has long been seen as one of the reasons for a growing level of childhood obesity. It also hampers physical abilities and many children are starting school without the necessary skills to hold a pencil, to sit upright on a mat, to run, jump, or skip in the playground, to dress themselves and to move safely. Not only are some children starting school without the necessary physical abilities but it can interfere with their intellectual development and their ability to cope at school. The brain needs to forge many connections across it’s to hemispheres in order to learn and develop and movement is one of the key ways in which this is done (through physical co-ordination particular across the body). Without these connections, children’s learning can be harder.
As a result the government and the NHS have laid out recommendations for the levels of physical activity among young children. They advise that all children should be physically activity every day. Babies need lots of ‘tummy’ time each day (being laid on their fronts in a safe and supervised environment) and opportunities to crawl and roll when they are slightly older. Once they are able to walk, the government advises that children be physically active (engaged in activities that make the huff and puff) for at least 180 minutes every day, spread throughout the day.
It is because the development of children’s physical skills are so important that the Motor Skills element appears in every class, every week.
When teaching a Motor Skills activity it is important to go at children’s own pace and to realise that there will be vast differences in ability at this age. This is perfectly normal. Just as with all other skills, one child may learn to walk at 8 months, another not until 30 months; another child may be able to jump with both feet off the floor at the age of two, another wont master the skill until they are four. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem or that one child will be better or worse at sport than another when they grow up! The important thing is to give lots of encouragement and opportunity for practice.
For more detail on the way we support the development of motor skills within our classes, please see the background to each of the Motor Skills activities given on their description pages.