Environmental factors affecting Gross Motor Development
This issue raises concerns about whether human behavior is a function of our heredity or of the environment in which we interact (Payne & Isaacs, 1987). In particular "Does the environment have an effect on an individuals motor development and is there an association between motor skills and an individual being placed in a deprived or stimulating environment". This is an important area of concern since we want to create learning tasks that will most efficiently enhance the movement abilities of people of all ages.
It is obvious that a child deprived of adequate food and shelter may be harmed physically. It is becoming increasingly evident that in our society no one can attain maximal potential if they do not grow up under favorable conditions
The play environment is extremely important to the developing child's motor skills. Play is a general term often applied to any form of activity that is undirected, spontaneous or engaged in randomly. Ideally nature provides all the ingredients for play that are required for developing to full maturity and gaining important motor skills. Large areas to run in, rocks, hills and trees to climb and stones to throw are suited to developing motor skills.
However urbanization has eliminated the fields to play in, concrete and asphalt have replaced the hills and trees. A child may also be denied access to these because of the safety factors involved and the confines of television watching are often more attractive than the activities of running and playing. If a child is to fully develop gross motor skills it is important to create an effective play environment. The world of home, park and school should provide the opportunity for children to gain necessary experience for efficient locomotion, balance and control of various objects.
Values of Play Outdoors
In particular play provides opportunities to develop physical skills and physical fitness to strengthen muscles. It also -
Payne (Payne &, Isaac 1987) believes that there is a "critical period" of time when a child is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If the child is appropriately stimulated during this period the associated behavior is most likely to emerge or be facilitated.
A child's "readiness" must also be considered in motor development, as a person must achieve a certain point in an ongoing process that enables the establishment of minimum characteristics necessary for a certain behavior to be acquired.
If a child has been deprived during these periods a "catch up" period may be initiated. Catch up is a human beings ability to return to a predetermined pattern of behavior or growth following a relatively sever period of deprivation or mistreatment. Although normally associated with physical growth catch up also appears to occur with motor development.
Environmental factors affecting Fine Motor Development
Environmental factors can also affect fine motor skills. Glenn Doman (Payne & Isaacs, 1987) wrote several books about the teaching of skills such as reading and maths to babies. Although these skills are often believed to be entirely intellectual, Doman found that the fine control of eye movement for example emphasizes the influence of motor development on ones reading or maths success.
Rosenbloom and Horton (1971; cited in Payne and Isaacs, 1987) used British children in their study of the development of techniques for holding writing implements. Later, Saida and Miyashita (1979; cited in Payne and Isaacs, 1987) conducted a similar study. They used Japanese children to compare the fine motor skills of both groups.
Saida & Miyashita found that the sequential development of the techniques for holding and moving writing implements was universal, although the rate of acquisition of stages varied.
Similarities between groups
It was found that both Japanese and British children:
A significant difference between groups
Why the difference between groups?
It has been speculated that the Dynamic tripod development of Japanese children may have been enhanced by cultural differences. For example, Japanese children are taught to use chopsticks at an early age and therefore exercise their fine motor skills.
Implications for teaching
One inference which can be made from the cross cultural study is that lessons should emphasize exercising fine motor skills. Junior Primary students could be instructed to:
The premise that practice makes perfect is not accepted by all researchers of motor development. Motor skills are related to several other abilities. Some skills depend on practice, some rely on body size, brain maturation or genetically based talent. A child's brain maturation affects their reaction time which in turn affects a child's ability to perform a motor skill.
Kellogg's (1969; cited in Payne and Isaacs, 1987) four stages of drawing development are sequential, however, the age at which children enter these stages is influenced by variables such as the home environment.
According to Payne & Issacs (1987), children from homes conducive to drawing develop drawing skills earlier. Components of a positive home environment include:
Implications for teaching
At can be inferred that a classroom which contains the characteristics of a positive home environment will also be conducive to the development of drawing skills.
Biological factors affecting Motor Development
Sex-related Differences in Motor Skills
During the middle childhood years when a child is attending primary school differences between the sexes intensifies. Girls are ahead of boys in their overall physical maturity.
more advanced in abilities that emphasize force and
power advantage in
fine motor skills such as drawing and
penmanship skill advantages
arise due to greater muscle mass and longer
forearms slightly better
at certain gross motor capacities that combine
balance and foot movement greater overall
flexibility therefore better at bending and
slightly more advanced in abilities that emphasize force and power
advantage in fine motor skills such as drawing and penmanship
skill advantages arise due to greater muscle mass and longer forearms
slightly better at certain gross motor capacities that combine balance and foot movement
greater overall flexibility therefore better at bending and balancing