It is imperative that educators understand the aspects of the domains of development and how these aspects relate to and influence educational settings. The domains include the areas of cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. Each domain is of the upmost importance as they combine and integrate to complete a whole picture of the child. Within the domain of physical development there are systematic changes that take place as children grow. This allows the educator to provide opportunities for children to learn, practice, expand and refine their developing motor skills. Children within the six to ten year old age group, known as the middle childhood period expand and build on their existing gross and fine motor physical abilities.
As much as physical development follows a logical sequence educators must me mindful that each child is unique so there will always be deviations.
Numerous physical changes occur in children as they grow. During the middle childhood period children grow taller and gain weight however their basic structures remain the same (Mc Devitt & Ormrod, p161 2010). Gross motor skills become less awkward and speed and
Co-ordination improves. Their fine motor skills also improve as their drawings become more detailed and their handwriting becomes small and more consistent. They can sew, build models and complete other craft activities (Mc Devitt & Ormrod, p161 2010).
Gross motor skills incorporate the large muscles of the body including arms, legs, feet and torso. And depend on both muscle tone and strength. The physical activities include running, skipping, jumping, and so on. Fine motor skills concentrate on the smaller muscles including the hand and wrist which is very important to master the skills of handwriting, grasping and manipulation of smaller objects.
Physical movement is essential in the continuing development of the cognitive domain, physical movement increases myelination which is critical to brain development and function (Hannaford, 1995). Physical movement is essential in socio-emotional development as it allows children to interact with others, an important time for friendships to form and the development of children??™s self awareness.
Possible causes of development delays in children are categorized into two major factors Genetic (from the biological parents) and environmental influences including toxins, illness and cultural disadvantages such as low socio/economic families.
The space of the classroom is to be shared by the teacher and all of the students in that classroom. The space may be too small for the physical attributes of the student and make the student feel confined. A space could be too wide for the student and make that student feel insignificant impacting on their ability to stay focused. In order to set up the classroom, the physical aspects of the students that occupy the space must be taken into consideration.
The desks and chairs that are available for the students need to be size appropriate; the proper climate conditions also have an effect on the learning capabilities of students. A bright happy classroom has been shown to have a positive effect on a child??™s learning experiences.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommend that Australians put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. A classroom teacher has the opportunity to observe each child individually and prepare lessons that will accommodate all students??™ physical needs while still meeting the required learning outcomes. Research has shown that physical activities in a school setting can be beneficial to a child??™s development. Lessons can involve physical activity while maintaining the educational values required. A math??™s lesson incorporating physical activity would be beneficial in many ways not only physically but emotionally and cognitively. One example is a game called hot potato. It requires students, a small bean bag and a teacher to supervise. The game starts with all children in a circle. The first child calls out the number three the child throws the bean bag to a student of their choice and they continue with the number pattern of adding three to the previous students answer. Fine motor skills have been used in the throwing and the catching of the bean bag, cognitive in the thinking of the answer and social abilities in the throwing to the student of their choice. A science lesson that would be using several developmental domains is mini beasts. This would be a follow up of a classroom lesson from the previous day studying insects. Outside in the playground the children would form into groups of four and measure an area of a square meter and they would have to look for an insect for example, an ant. Using plastic tweezers gently place the insect into a plastic container and draw the insect with each child describing something different about the insect. The skills used in this lesson would be cognitive in describing the insect, social in the way the group worked together, and the use of fine motor skills in the collection of the insect. A class lesson that could be great for using both motor skills while still involving the other developmental domains is a Personal Development, Health and Physical Education lesson. Mapping out a section of a cross-country course, the items needed would be a trundle wheel (a device used to measure distance) pen and paper and small groups of around six students. The students would have to estimate a distance of around twenty meters by striding the distance. Each child would take turns to push the trundle wheel and measure the distance. Students waiting for their turn could record the number of clicks and convert this to the distance measured. This lesson has involved gross motor skills in the striding and walking, cognitive in the estimation of the distance and the counting of the clicks, socio-emotional in the way the group performs together, fine motor skills in the writing of the results. Each development domain is integrated and dependent on each other.
Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in calorie expenditure (Caspersen CJ, Powell KE, Christenson GM p126, 1985)
The benefit of physical activity is important in creating a healthy child. The benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, Physical activity assists in the strengthening of muscles and bones, improving sleep and creating a positive self attitude. The benefits of physical activity within the social domain, provides an opportunity to build friendships, develop the ability to work in a team and also improve a child??™s concentration span. The benefits for emotional development when physically active have been linked to better self confidence, an opportunity while being physically active to release stress and a greater self worth. Research has revealed physical activity has a positive affect on student??™s academic achievements in the areas of memory, observation, problem solving and decision making. This also has had a significant affect in behaviour, attitudes and creativity
( Keays J and Allison K, p62??“65, 1995).
Prolonged inactivity is linked to many health issues including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, stage two diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Obesity is the most recognised of childhood diseases and often featured in the media. The World Health Organization in 1997 released research finding that obesity in adolescents is on the rise globally and this had led to higher reports of childhood illnesses such as asthma and heart disease. Some obese children have been described by their peers as ugly and lazy (Stafferi, p101-104 1967). Social stigma and weight-based teasing have been identified as key elements that may increase risk for negative psychosocial outcomes among overweight children (Puhl RM, Latner, JD. p557 2007).
It is clear that physical activity is important and supports all the development domains. The school education environment has a privileged opportunity to provide students with the opportunity, knowledge and skills they will need to grow into healthy adults. As evident, within the school environment, children are aware that there are physical and academic differences between them. It is vital that children with physical developmental delays whether mild, moderate or severe, caused by either environmental or genetic factors are not allowed to be ridiculed or let ???slip??? through the education system, without everything possible being done. This is an age group where children are developing skills that they will keep and use for life. Positive self awareness, self image and self confidence are crucial. Educators must be aware of the aspects and importance of the domains of development and develop appropriate teaching and learning programs and educational settings to accommodate for variations necessary to meet every individual child??™s needs.
Caspersen CJ, Powell KE, Christenson GM. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: Definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Rep. 1985.
Hannaford, C, (1995). Smart Moves: Why Learning is not all in your head.
Keays J.J, Allison K.R The Effects of Regular Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on Student Outcomes. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 1995
Mcdevitt, T Ormrod, J. Child Development and Education fourth edition.
Puhl RM, Latner, JD. Stigma, obesity, and the health of the Nation??™s Children. Psychol Bull. 2007
Stafferi, R. J. (1967) A study of social stereotype of body image in children.