Parent Information

Missouri State PMD LabPurpose of the Program

The purpose of our program is to remediate deficiencies in perceptual-motor skills for children 3 – 10 years of age in an enjoyable, safe and secure teaching/learning environment. 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 addition and of considerable importance, 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 subsequent line. 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.


This is a year round program, extending over fall, spring and summer semesters. Typically children meet twice weekly with a student for a one-on-one teaching/learning session that lasts for one hour and ranges over an approximate 14 week period. In order to determine if your child qualifies for the program, you will need to call (417-836-6234) or E-mail ( Dr. John Downing to set up and appointment for consultation, screening and program development. To expedite this process, you may access a placement request form (icon in left column of this page) which you may fill out on-line and submit with your appointment request, or download and fill out by hand, review and bring to your initial appointment at Missouri State. The purpose of the screening and consultation is to (1) acquaint you with the program – its purpose and process, (2) allow for some discussion relative to your child and her/his motor and academic history, (3) evaluate the perceptual motor status of your child, (4) develop an educational program for your child if s/he qualifies for services, and (5) afford you the opportunity to proffer questions relative to the program and services offered. This initial meeting usually lasts from 30 minutes to 1 hour, and is conducted in McDonald Arena (MCDA) 209 and 207 (lab) on the Missouri State University campus [ Campus Map ]. The fee for participation in the program is $35. For first time participants this fee is due on the day of your child's initial screening. The fee is recurring, and is due on or before the first meeting day of the semester for returning children. Scholarships are available with concurrent fee waivers.

After acceptance into the program, a student-teacher from the course, KIN 545, Perceptual Motor Development, will call you to arrange your child’s schedule in the laboratory. On your first meeting date, please meet the student-teacher in the lobby of McDonald Arena (MCDA), and during that time, you may establish a pick up and drop off routine for the remainder of the semester that is most convenient for you. After you drop your child off at MCDA you may either remain and wait for the conclusion of the program session or leave and return for pick up at the end of the hour. The program usually begins in the third week of the semester, since time must be initially allocated to introduce the students to the class and the laboratory, and set up parent-student schedules based on mutual availability.

The student-teacher is required to review your child’s file and discuss programming issues with the course instructor before meeting with the child. At this time s/he signs a non-disclosure waiver for all of your child’s information. I strongly advise both student-teachers and parents to establish an open dialogue from day one regarding the child’s progress in the program. This element of communication has proven an effective informal appraisal tool in the past.

You will also be eligible for parking privileges on campus. Please go to the parking office at 700 E. Elm Street on the Missouri State University campus to pick up your parking pass on the first day of the laboratory. The student-teacher will provide you with directions to this facility.

At semester’s end, the student-teacher will arrange for a parent conference at which time s/he will discuss with you the progress made over the course of the semester. This conference is required for all participants of this program. Specifically, the student-teacher will share with you your child’s strengths, areas of need, projected goals and objectives and specific activities that will enable the goals and objectives both in the program and at home. The meeting usually lasts for 30 – 45 minutes, and is held in MCDA 209. Dr. Downing will be present for the meeting. A follow up letter reflective of the meeting will be sent to your home residence. During this time, preliminary arrangements will be made for enrolling your child in the subsequent semester, if necessary. Note: Please do not bring young children to the meeting since it is distracting to the students and may disrupt the flow of the meeting. Also, this meeting is a graded assignment for the student teachers.

Issues in the Practicum

In order to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, certain preventive and informational issues should be addressed. These issues are based on years of experience with this and similar programs, and included to ensure maximum efficiency in the teaching-learning process.

  • Please understand that the student-teacher that works with your child is exactly that – a university student – nearing graduation. The vast majority of students in this program are enthusiastic and work very hard to ensure that your child’s experience is exemplary. Consequently, the children in this program usually show considerable gains in both motor and related academic readiness skills. If for some reason you are not satisfied with your child’s experience, CONTACT ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
  • All students in this and any other practicum (laboratory) program on this campus who work with children undergo and FBI finger printing clearance.
  • A standing rule for the laboratory is that after the first meeting period NO PARENTS ARE TO REMAIN IN THE LABORATORY DURING THE TEACHING/LEARNING PROCESS! This prevents your child from being distracted, and allows the student-teacher more time to teach. Effective teaching/learning requires minimal distraction for maximum efficiency.Please be on time for your meetings. Many of the student-teachers participating in the program have other classes, jobs or other responsibilities, plus the majority of their grade points are connected to the lab experience. By the same token, if a student-teacher is chronically tardy, please inform me as soon as possible and steps will be taken immediately to rectify the situation.
    • This rule applies to the swimming pool during the summer semester. NOTE: YOU MAY TAKE SOME PHOTOS, VIDEOS, ETC. BUT PLEASE DO NOT REMAIN IN THE SWIMMING POOL.
  • Program ATTENDANCE is critical, especially in regards to efficient learning and developmental progressions. If your child cannot participate on any given day, PLEASE CONTACT THE STUDENT-TEACHER AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE. THIS PROCEDURE ALSO APPLIES TO THE STUDENT-TEACHER. If the student-teacher cannot participate on any given day, s/he must contact you and the course instructor as far in advance as possible.
  • In the absence of a student-teacher or program coordinator, the Perceptual Motor Development Laboratory will remain closed and locked AT ALL TIMES. Parents are not to enter the laboratory with their children if a university representative is not present. THIS IS A UNIVERSITY INSURANCE REQUIREMENT.
  • PLEASE do not ask the student-teacher working with your child to help him/her complete homework assignments during the time allotted for laboratory instruction.

  • BEHAVIOR ISSUES - Acute/occasional episodes of unacceptable behavior are understandable. HOWEVER, chronic, serious behavior issues e.g., hitting, biting, throwing objects at instructors etc., will not be tolerated. Extended incidents of serious misbehaviors will result in dismissal from the program.

On behalf of the Perceptual Motor Development program and the faculty and staff of the Department of Kinesiology at Missouri State, I look forward to working with you and your child in our program.

John H. Downing, Ph.D.
Program Director