Purpose of the Program
The purpose of the Perceptual Motor Development Laboratory program is to provide students in KIN 545 – Perceptual Motor Development with an opportunity to work with a young child – generally 3 – 10 years old – considered at-risk in one or more critical areas of perceptual-motor development. Children in the program typically demonstrate developmental delays in one or more of the psychomotor, affective and cognitive learning domains. Deficits that children enrolled in this program present are usually in the following areas:
- static and dynamic balance
- laterality, as indicated by an inability to recognize/identify body parts or understand their function
- directionality – as indicated in the following areas
- concepts of left versus right in space
- the ability to utilize space safely and effectively
- time-space relationships
- visual figure-ground perception, visual tracking (fixation and pursuit), depth perception, visual acuity
- mid-line crossing
- gross motor skills (running, galloping, sliding, jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, catching, dribbling, kicking, striking)
- fine motor skills (tying knots, opening lids, tying shoe laces, manipulating a writing instrument, etc.
- hand-eye and/or eye/hand coordination
- overall motor control
- attending to directions
- school difficulties or failure
One unique element of this program is that it not only focuses on remediating perceptual-motor skills, but, in so doing, it also serves to increase the child’s academic readiness skills. As a student in this program, you will find that by remediating a child’s balance insufficiency, his/her inability to cross the mid-line or her/his inability to track, fixate on or pursue an object, you will help him/her make great strides in areas that underlie success in the classroom.
Each student teacher will arrange a mutually convenient meeting time with the parent or teacher in (1) the on campus perceptual-motor developmental laboratory, (2) the Springfield public school early childhood program, (3) Springfield Catholic schools, or (4) a public/private school in a remote location at which two weekly 60-minute sessions of developmental activities are scheduled. Each child is screened via an age appropriate perceptual-motor test, and a one-on-one, student to child, remediation program is developed from the results of the screening and/or in conjunction with a personalized activity program developed for the child by a student in the previous semester. The on-campus laboratory is a 1,600 square feet activity room fully supplied with a wide variety of equipment designed for increasing both gross and fine motor skills. A typical activity session provides a child with approximately (1) 20-25 minutes of activities devoted to the development of balance and laterality, (2) 20-25 minutes of gross motor activities – i.e., play or game activities that involve running, jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, catching, striking, kicking – designed to improve the skills per se while enhancing such components of directionality as mid-line crossing, spatial awareness, depth perception and tracking, and (3) 15-20 minutes of fine motor skills that include but are not limited to such activities as drawing, coloring, cutting, reproducing numbers and letters, and completing jig saw puzzles and/or mazes. Note, however, that each individualized program is designed for the specific needs of the child; the above time allocations will vary to meet that need. The emphasis in the laboratory is on modifying as many of the teaching activities as possible into play and game formats in a manner most appropriate for the specific needs of the children. Students are encouraged to get “down and dirty” in play/game activities with the children. A laboratory activity manual is included as one of the required course textbooks.
Over the course of the semester, students develop daily lesson plans for the children with whom they work, and generate weekly activity logs that serve as progress indicators and ongoing, informal status reports. A similar placement method is used for students who are placed with selected teachers in public/private schools; however privileged pupil information in these placements is not shared with the students. In addition, the program supervisor observes each student-teacher regardless of placement site for at least one activity session early in the semester.
At or around the conclusion of the semester, the student-teachers in this class are required to complete the following assignments:
- conduct informal testing geared toward the child’s needs,
- write an analysis of the testing, including the child’s strengths and areas of need,
- develop an activity program for the child for the subsequent semester, including realistic goals, behavior objectives/benchmarks and suggested remedial activities, (4) arrange for and conduct a 30 – 45 minute conference with the parents/guardians or alternative placement site teacher and
- write/type a formal report for the parents/guardians/teachers in letter format.
Both parent conference and the formal report are reflective of the experiences that the student accrued during participation in the program, including details on the status and progress of the child. A similar procedure is required for students assigned to public or private school placements. The formal report is sent home to the parents or to the home school of the supervising teacher. The program supervisor is present at all on-campus conferences, evaluates all assignments and provides appropriate feedback to the students. Children in the campus program may repeat the program at the discretion of the parents and the program supervisor.
During the summer the program is called SWIM/GYM/LEARN and meets four days per week for seven weeks. The children are engaged in motor development activities in the clinic for two days a week while participating in a swimming program for the remaining two days at the university aquatics center. The summer program runs for seven weeks, and is limited to 25-30 children, or the number of college students enrolled in the course.
The summer program was initiated in 1975, and the fall/spring school-year program began in 1983. Over 2,650 children have participated in the program.
Concomitant Program Outcomes: Most university mission statements not only emphasize mastery of a student’s area of emphasis (major), but the achievement of a high level of proficiency in areas representative of the general education core, including reading for comprehension, effective written and oral communication skills, and the ability to think critically, use logic, make appropriate decisions and solve problems. The embracement, understanding and appreciation of diversity is also an integral element of a mission statement. The perceptual-motor development program comprehensively addresses most of the outcomes of a typical university mission statement while using a number of additional unique approaches that make it truly distinctive and effective in its purpose. Examples of how students in this program achieve these outcomes are listed below.
In conducting the one-on-one program with an at risk child, students cultivate:
- Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills by
- Creating teaching environments that keeps at-risk children on-task
- Learning to manipulate a child’s social behavior
- Making determinations regarding the teaching/learning process based on: a previous term’s assessment data, transitioning observations and assessment data into lesson plans and activities, and continuously modifying the teaching environment to achieve optimum one-on-one results
- Assessing/Evaluating levels and degrees of child’s needs
- Generating a remedial activity program from this evaluation
- Determining how to present the results of a semester’s program to either a professional educator (classroom teacher) or a non-professional (parent/guardian) in a thorough, meaningful manner
- Generating a variety of teaching strategies to use in future professional endeavors
- Oral/verbal, problem solving and decision making skills by
- Keeping meaningful weekly activity logs
- Writing daily lesson plans; generating goals and behavior objectives/benchmarks
- Creating a written, meaningful status report
- Developing an activity program, based on a status report
- Arranging and conducting a conference with the parent/guardian of the child in one’s charge
- Writing a formal letter/end of term status report based on the term’s experiences, observations recorded in activity logs, screening and assessments and projected activity program to the parents/guardian
- An understanding and appreciation of diversity by
- Working with and observing a child at-risk in a one-on-one teaching situation over the course of an entire semester
- Communicating with parents/guardians of children at-risk
In summary, the laboratory experience will provide you with a number of unique learning opportunities that have the potential to increase your understanding of the characteristics of young children, while providing you with numerous decision making and problem solving activities which you will hopefully utilize, hone and modify over the course of your teaching career. I urge you to take every possible positive advantage of this experience. For a list of general laboratory responsibilities, click on the link in the left column for modified IEP, scheduling, on-campus placements, off-campus placements, scoring/grading rubrics for both on and off-campus practicum and parent/teacher conferences.