Perceptual Motor Development Lab

The Missouri State University perceptual-motor development program is dedicated to the remediation of both psychomotor and academic readiness skills for younger at-risk children in the greater Springfield region. The program is housed in the Department of Kinesiology (KIN).

SUMMER ANNOUNCEMENT: After 44 consecutive years, the summer semester SWIM/GYM program is suspended indefinitely.  Numerous circumstances have led to this decision the most important of which is that KIN 545 Perceptual Motor Development, the course that fields the teachers for the program, is no longer offered in the summer. Thanks are in order for all the parents and school support staff who have faithfully supported this program since its inception. PLEASE NOTE: The Perceptual Motor Development Laboratory will remain open and functional over both fall and spring semesters.

At-risk children in this context are typically those who often:

  • Demonstrate difficulty running, jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, catching, kicking and striking
  • Have trouble with balance and coordination and stumble over objects
  • Have problems cutting out shapes, using crayons or pencils
  • Spill drinks and/or drop objects
  • Lack the ability to discriminate left from right
  • Exhibit inability or inconsistency in tracking objects moving in space, e.g., visually following the flight of a ball
  • Display overall clumsiness and/or lack of coordination
  • Exhibit any or all of the above characteristics in conjunction with academic difficulties

John Downing

John Downing at Wildlife Park, Queensland, Australia - 1985.

Director: Dr. John Downing, Department of Kinesiology (KIN)

Location: McDonald Arena (MCDA), Room 209

The on-campus laboratory is a 1,600 square foot activity center housed in McDonald Arena on the Missouri State campus. It is supplied with a variety of gross and fine motor equipment designed to address a variety of perceptual motor needs. The laboratory is implemented in conjunction with, and as a practicum experience for, the students in KIN 545, Perceptual-Motor Development. During the fall and spring semesters the laboratory typically serves approximately 20 - 30 children.

In addition, some students from the course are placed in alternative settings, including Springfield Public School programs in early childhood special education or physical education or Springfield Catholic School early elementary physical education programs, where they work under the supervision of a cooperating teacher with an assigned at-risk child on a more limited basis. Allowances are also made for commuting students to work in similar settings in school districts in proximity to their homes.

The children in the program range in age from three to 10 years of age; the average age is six. Referrals to the program emanate from public/private school teachers and administrators, the Springfield Chapter of Parents as Teachers, and a variety of other sources. The student teachers are typically senior or graduate/postbaccalaureate level early childhood, physical education or special education majors.

Prior to acceptance of a child into the on-campus program an interview is conducted with the parents. Each child is then screened via an age appropriate perceptual-motor development test, and a remediation program [modified Individualized Education Plan (IEP)] is developed from the results of the screening. If the child qualifies for the program, the student teacher and parents arrange a mutually convenient meeting time at which two weekly 60-minute sessions of developmental activities are scheduled.

Children who have participated in the program for one semester or more are assessed by their student-teachers at the conclusion of each semester and their modified IEPs are developed for use in the following semester.

The student-teachers in this class are required to complete the following practicum assignments all of which are shared with the parents: (1) write behavior objectives and develop lesson plans and activity logs for the specific child with whom they work, (2) conduct informal testing geared toward the child’s needs, and (3) conduct a conference with the parents and write a formal report, both of which are reflective of the experiences that they accrued during participation in the program, including details on the status and progress of the child. The formal report is sent home to the parents. The children may repeat the program at the discretion of the supervisor and/or parents.

There is a $35 per semester charge for the program. Scholarships are available.

**During the summer the program is called SWIM/GYM. The children are engaged in motor development activities in the clinic for two days a week while participating in an aquatics program for the remaining two days at the university aquatics center. The summer program runs for seven weeks and meets Mondays through Thursdays from 1:30 – 2:30 pm. If possible, alternative hours after 12pm may be arranged. Summer program participation is limited to 25 children, or the number of college students enrolled in the course.

The summer SWIM/GYM program was initiated in 1975 by Dr. Michael McCarty, and the fall/spring school-year program began in 1983. Over 3,000 children have participated in the program. STUDENTS, PARENTS, TEACHERS/ADMINISTRATORS AND/OR AGENCIES CATERING TO CHILDREN AT-RISK - please click on your specific icon in the left column of this page for more pertinent information.

Parking is available for parents