Purpose of the Program
The purpose of our program is to remediate deficiencies in perceptual-motor skills, which may affect academic readiness skills, for children 3 – 10 years of age. Typical components of perceptual motor development that are targeted for intervention in this program include balance, visual tracking and depth perception, crossing the mid-line, spatial awareness and organization, and body image and awareness. Deficits in these areas will often have a negative affect on such fundamental movement patterns and skills as running, galloping, sliding, jumping, hopping and skipping, throwing, catching, kicking, striking, and dribbling. In this program, the student is expected to participate in your class twice a week for at least one hour per session. Meeting twice a week as opposed to one two hour block has demonstrated over time more effective learning outcomes.
With your assistance, the practicum student is to be assigned one child in your class who demonstrates a delay(s) in motor development. After two or three weeks of observation, I would like the student to work with this child for approximately 15/20 minutes or more per class period on the specific gross/fine motor or perceptual motor skills with which the child demonstrates a need for intervention. If it is possible, and does not violate school policy, you may want to share any specific information about the child’s perceptual and motor status and needs that might be helpful to the student in developing the lesson plans that I require as part of the course evaluation. Also, toward the end of the semester, I would like the student to have an opportunity to create four lesson plans which s/he can use in 20 minute one-on-one teaching episodes with the child. In addition, the student is expected to “pitch in” and assist the teacher in much the same mode as a teaching paraprofessional. She/he is required to participate in any way you deem pertinent to effectively increase their understanding of and teaching effectiveness in the motor domain.
Bases of the Program
Historical and current literature on physical development and children has reinforced certain beliefs relative to the learning process. From the context of this course we base many of our activities on these premises:
- Children develop cephalo-caudally [literally from the head to the tail], e.g., an infant learns to control the head before the neck, trunk etc.
- Children develop proximo-distally [literally from the mid-line of the body, viz., spine, to the extremities]
- Neuromuscular development in children proceeds from gross to fine [meaning the large muscles of the trunk, shoulders, pelvis and thighs come under the child’s control before the smaller muscles of the arms, forearms, hands of the upper body or the legs, ankles and feet of the lower body]
- Brain Plasticity affords infants, toddlers and children from birth to approximately age 10 the greatest capacity for developmental change than during any other period over the course of their lives
- All of the above premises are expedited by enriched learning environments, especially those found in play activities
From the perspective of classroom learning, deficits in the above mentioned skills often have a negative effect on the social and academic learning skills of some children classified at-risk. For example, if a child develops efficient reading and writing skills s/her must be able to maintain an efficient seated posture over a period of time to maintain balance while sitting in a chair or at a desk; also the child must be able to fixate and pursue (track) words on paper or in a book, while crossing the middle of the page (mid-line) easily and reversing from the right end of a line of text back to the left beginning of the line under it. As such, our program is designed not only to remediate motor deficiencies, but, also, to utilize the learning of gross motor skills to enhance and facilitate academic readiness skills. Please refer to the icon in the left column entitled, Developmental Links for Teachers, for more comprehensive information on motor-academic connections.
Pre-school-early childhood age children prefer learning via right brain processing – a.k.a. experiential learning, methods. At approximately 8 years of age cerebral dominance is determined, and for the vast majority of people the left brain becomes the hemisphere of choice, i.e., individuals develop a predilection toward the use of language and logic as the primary mode of learning. A small percentage of children, however, tend to retain right brain learning, viz., visual-spatial, tactile-kinesthetic, preferences. Movement programs of the nature of the KIN 545 laboratory experience have often been found to aid/abet developmental left-brain learning processes for these children (see Developmental Links for Teachers icon).
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 are also integral elements 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. Your leadership and mentoring will enable the student in your charge to achieve the outcomes listed below via the one-on-one program:
- Develop critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills by
- Creating teaching environments that keeps at-risk children on-task
- 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
- 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 a professional supervisor in a thorough, meaningful manner
- Generating a variety of teaching strategies to use in future professional endeavors
- Enhance written and oral communication skills by
- Keeping meaningful weekly activity logs
- Writing lesson plans; generating goals and behavior objectives/benchmarks
- Creating a written status report
- Developing an activity program, based on a status report
- Arranging and conducting a conference with the classroom teacher regarding the child’s progress
- Writing a formal letter or 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
- Understanding and appreciating diversity
- Working with and observing a child at-risk in a one-on-one teaching situation over the course of an entire semester
Teachers who engage students for KIN 545 in this learning process will receive a letter from the course instructor that explains the basic purpose and expectations of this course. They will also receive a copy of the student responsibilities [from the student], that explains in greater detail what is expected of the individual student-teacher in the laboratory experience [see attached icon, Off-Campus Practicum Requirements]. I strongly urge you to allow the student-teacher to engage his/her assigned child for at least 20 minutes twice per week in gross motor activities. The student will be responsible for various other assignments, which s/he will share with you toward the end of the semester. Understanding that time is at a premium in regards to your own lesson preparation, I suggest that you allow the student-teacher to engage his/her pupil in perceptual-motor activities that include academic themes, especially those that will reinforce the daily learning activities that you utilize over the course of the term.
If you feel that one or more children in your current or recent teaching situations might profit from the program on-campus, please refer the child’s parents/guardians to either the parent section of this website or Dr. Downing’s phone/E-mail. Thank you for taking the time to peruse this site and the information within it.