Physical Development in Middle Childhood
One important factor of physical activity during these years is to improve their gross and fine motor skills which assists with the many other benefits that being physically active will give a child. Their gross and fine motor skills are becoming more advanced and need to be capitalised upon. Children are learning to ride bikes, play in organised and team orientated sports – all with more co-ordination and understanding than before. While engaging in these activity’s they are improving their gross motor skills and this gives them a great sense of gratification.
Also during this time their fine motor skills will be improving such as their handwriting, drawing, painting, crafts and building. In the middle childhood years children are becoming more aware of their surroundings, community and culture. They can start to see themselves as an individual that can read, write, learn and adhere to rules and understand why we need them. Physical development can affect other areas of development in very positive ways. It helps them to be able to relate & interact with others. This era sees those making relationships with their peers.
They make friendships with others and along with friendship come the enviable fights. This is also important as they learn to sort out these disagreements and learn from them. This comes from their developing ability to think for themselves – having different points of view, being able to see others points of view and having a longer attention span. The skills they are learning and improving at this very important time of their lives will assist them as children and builds the foundations of having great confidence within themselves and having healthy and active bodies.
It is believed that inability to perfect their gross & fine motor skills by being physically inactive will lead to many consequences not only physically but also in other areas of their development. Inactivity will inhibit the Childs co-ordination, spatial awareness, social skills; their larger muscles would be underdeveloped. Inactivity promotes obesity and other serious health issues. At this age children have boundless energy and find it hard to sit down for long periods of time as their bodies and brains crave the need to more around and are active.
Along with the need to move comes the need for attention and socialising. During this time their bodies are growing taller and gaining weight. Physical activity is crucial at this time because they are showing themselves what their bodies are able to do and what they are able to do better than when the learned the skill. For example when children are in their early childhood they learn how to run and jump, in middle childhood they are taking those skills and developing proper athletic abilities and talents.
They can run faster on the track, swim faster in the pool and throw balls with more precision and show themselves and others the talents they are developing. If during this time they are not able to do that they will see their peers excelling at these activities and that they themselves are falling behind. This severely affects their confidence. They are very aware of their peers and compare themselves to others constantly which is why they are adapting to organised sports – their competitiveness is kicking in.
It’s in the children’s nature to want to be active in sports and it gives them the stimulation and organisation that they need. It’s also in some children’s nature to be shy and reserved. It’s important for all students to be improving their skills but most important for the more reserved children. Inactivity will only perpetuate their shyness because they are missing out on group activities in a fun environment. Being a part of a team helps confidence and communication with their peers. Children need to embrace being active from early on – especially now as their bodies crave being active they will associate ‘activity’ with ‘fun’.
Inability to develop their gross motor skills can lead to the children feeling sluggish, weight will be gained lowering their confidence and increasing the risk of obesity and their relationship with physical activity will be mentally unhealthy. Inability to develop their fine motor skills is also just as important. This is the time where children need to perfect their handwriting, craft making and reading these are very important skills that they will need for the rest of their lives. If children find they don’t excel at these skills they will find they get frustrated, it lowers they confidence and willingness to try and parts of heir brain are underdeveloped. For example in this era children are starting to dress themselves and inability to do this will leave them frustrated and disappointed that they are behind. As parents and teachers we need to do our best to always keep the children active as it most certainly affects the other areas of their development. Implementing physical activity in lessons is very important. There are 3 activities that I will now explain that I think are great ways to implement to help with keeping the children active and improving their motor skills.
Firstly I would have each child in the classroom have a job they need to do every day in the classroom. Whether it is to give out work books, hand out pens, feed the plants or collect lunch orders. This gives each child the understanding of the importance of rules, responsibilities and the feeling of being included and the knowledge of being able to share and work as a team. This activity is more related to their fine motor skills and cognitive development. Secondly I would introduce the ‘Gold Star’ System. I would have the students chose a book and reading aloud to the class.
During this time if the children are stuck on a word they don’t know other students can assist with helping them. If the student reads the book without any help they receive 5 gold stars. I would also have the children practice their handwriting and everything they submit a neatly written piece of writing they would also receive 5 gold stars. If the children need assistance many times or have sloppy writing they have stars deducted. This also helps with fine motor skills and they also can show how well they can read & write and help others with their reading & writing.
Thirdly I would introduce team sports based around maths and spelling. I think it would be a great learning environment to take the students outside to a basketball court or an oval and have them grouped into teams. I would give them maths and spelling questions and the teams with the most correct answers would add more gold stars to their boards. I think this would be a really fun way to learn, challenge themselves and burn off energy. Working in teams is fantastic motivation to not let yourself or any of your team mates down.
In conclusion, Physical activity is vital in the middle childhood years for many reasons. Inactivity leads to many consequences in the Childs Health, Motor Skills and all other areas of child development. There are many things as Teachers we can do to in a learning environment to accommodate the physical needs of our students as to make sure they are developing as best they can be. ? Reference List McDevitt, T. , and Ormrod, J. (2010). Child development and education (4th Ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education