Throughout this essay we will look at the motor development of children in the middle childhood phase, the benefits physical activity has for children in this phase, how physical activity can either facilitate or restrict physical development and finally the strategies that will support physical development in the middle childhood phase. The motor development of children in the middle childhood phase includes a child’s gross motor and fine motor skills, their physical growth and cognitive growth both which occur simultaneously and have affects on each other (Croft & Smith; 2008).
The motor development skills that children begin to develop during the middle childhood phase come underneath two categories; gross motor development and fine motor development. The gross motor developmental skills that children begin to learn through the childhood phase are; running, jumping, hopping and they begin to develop more refined ball skills. Children also begin to improve skills in the capacity of flexibility, balance, agility and force. The fine motor developmental skills that are acquired in the middle childhood phase are writing and drawing.
Children’s writing tends to be large at first and legibility gradually increases, drawings show gains in organisation and detail. The physical development that occurs in children in the middle childhood phase are changes in both body size and proportion. Children tend to add 2 to 5 cm in height and 2. 5kg in weight each year and lose their 20 primary teeth one by one replacing them with permanent teeth that at first appear over sized in their small mouths (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). In the middle childhood phase girls tend to have small growth spurts at ages 6? , 8? and 10 erupting permanent teeth sooner and progressing toward skeletal maturity earlier then boys as they have their growth spurts at ages, 5, 7, 9, and 10?. At ages 6 to 8 girls are slightly shorter and lighter than boys, but by age 9 this trend is reversed. Girls in this phase of childhood slightly have more body fat and boys have more muscle, after the age of 8 girls begin accumulating fat at a faster rate. The cognitive development of children in the middle childhood phase can be related to Jean Paigets theory of cognitive development (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010).
In Piagets theory of cognitive development he divided the stages of cognitive development in 4 stages; the sensorimotor stage – beginning at birth, preoperational stage – beginning at about age 2, concrete operations stage – beginning at about age 6 or 7 and finally the formal operations stage beginning at ages 11 or 12 (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). The concrete operations stage is the cognitive development stage that occurs through the middle childhood phase and spans from the ages 7-11. In this developmental stage children show many forms of logical organized and flexible thought.
Also children are capable of conservation; they readily understand that if nothing is added or taken away, an amount stays the same despite the changes in shape or arrangement (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010)/ Although children displaying concrete operational thought, show many signs of logical thinking, their cognitive development is not yet complete (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). The participation of physical activity for children in the middle childhood phase is important due to the fact it provides a large range of health benefits, mental health benefits and social skills.
The health benefits of participating in physical activity for children in the middle childhood phase are; improved fitness, strength, flexibility and co-ordination. Also being physically active children are expected to have a longer life expectancy, have better managed weight, lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels. It is also important for children due to the fact physical activity supports healthy growth and development of the cardio respiratory systems as well as bones, muscles and wide range of motor skills.
The mental health benefits of physical activity in the middle childhood phase are; improved self esteem and confidence and reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. Also participating in physical activity improves mood and sense of well being, improves children’s concentration, enhances their memory and learning and allows them to perform better at school. Improvements in psychological wellbeing and mental awareness can arise from physical activity as well as reduced feelings of fatigue.
The social benefits of physical activity for children in the middle childhood phase are; development of communication, interpersonal leadership and co-operation skills, creation of lasting friendships, and the increased interest in accepting responsibility. Physical activity teaches children how to deal with winning and losing, self discipline and leadership. Also physical activity provides a vehicle for responsible risk taking helps build social skills among children and may deter anti-social behaviour.
Although physical activity has many benefits for it’s participators, those who are inactive for a long amount of time suffer the consequences of increase risk of dying prematurely, dying of heart disease and increase of developing diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure. Physical inactivity can also be the cause of people being overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese can increase a persons risk of having diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis and an overall poor health status. Physical activity for children in the middle childhood phase is vital to the overall development of children.
Cognitive, social and emotional developments are all linked to the physical activity of children. For infants and toddlers physical activity allows them to learn about themselves and the world around them, whereas children and adolescents build lifelong habits of being physically active. For children in the middle childhood phase the best way to facilitate their physical development and development in other is organised sports. Organised sports allows children to improve motor skills through repeated practice such as; running and kicking in soccer, swinging a bat in a aseball and increased motor co-ordination in gymnastics. Organised sports allows children to increase their social and emotional development by giving them the opportunity to have responsibilities as leaders, to give input on what they think is best, meet new people from other teams and increase their self-esteem through prolonged encouragement. However a child’s physical development does not only lie within the participation of sport. Small motor skills which are essential to a child’s physical development must also be taken into consideration.
These small motor skills can be facilitated through simple activities such as; playing with clay, painting on an easel and drawing with chalk. These activities also enhance both the social and emotional development of children as it also allows them to communicate with each other if done in groups and increases self esteem by praising children about their work. Being physically active everyday is important for the development of children’s motor skills and development in social and emotional areas.
To support the physical development of children the following strategies are ideal; vigorous and moderate physical activities, reduction in electronic use and media entertainment and activities that increase development in motor skills both gross and fine. The participation in both vigorous and moderate physical activities for at least 60 minutes each day is important to children’s physical development. Moderate physical activity allows children that aren’t encouraged to participate in sports to take brisk walks or bike rides.
Vigorous physical activities enable children to ‘huff and puff’ and include organised sports; such as football and netball. Although these activities make children ‘huff and puff’ activities such as ballet and running have the same outcome due to the fact children typically accumulate activities in intermittent bursts ranging from a few seconds to several minutes. This strategy is effective for children due to the fact it facilitates their physical development without restricting development in any other developmental areas.
Reduction is using electronics and media entertainment is a useful strategy to support the physical development of children. Reducing the use of electronics and media entertainment with children in the middle childhood phase is important because it would allow children to have the urge to participate in physical activity when they get older. This strategy is effective due to the fact it encourages children to participate in activities and will also facilitate their development in other key developmental areas (social and emotional).
A proper nutritious diet gives children the energy to develop and grow. To help children maintain a healthy diet, it is important to concentrate on family nutrition and nutrition in school. Sugar, salt and fat intake should be limited and fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein should be focused on. A nutritious diet is essential to supporting physical development due to the fact, to burn off the energy in a nutritious diet is easier then burning off energy from a diet high in salt, sugar and fat.