Learning & Behaviour

Social Learning

Sensory & Motor Development







Social Learning


Social interactions are an essential part of motor development. It is important for parents and teachers to understand the link between these two areas. 

Infants have been born with, or quickly acquire a few abilities that assist them in learning about people.

Infants spend much of their time using their senses. Babies show a lot of interest in:

  •  Faces
  • Voice
  • Movement

Infants learn at an early stage a few basic discriminations, such as facial expressions and voice tones. Even before an infant can talk or walk they are developing skill in social relationships. For example a young baby will follow another person's gaze to see what that person is looking at. This may be a small event but it is social interaction. Joint attention focus is a pre-requisites for all communication and the start of social learning. An infant must develop these skills to improve their interactions with other people.

As a child begins to develop mobility, the social interaction with adults soon turns into playtime with other children.


Playing is essential because it engages motor development.


During play, children learn about the world. They begin to understand rules and develop problem-solving skills. Children start to express themselves creatively, talents are found and friendship groups are formed. Children require motor development to play. Everyone differs in motor ability but this difference is more apparent in children.

Children who have not perfected motor skills are referred to as:

  • Clumsy
  • Uncoordinated


Consider a baby beginning to walk. The movements are unsteady and not yet perfected.

Think about a child riding a two-wheeled bike for the first time. The steering is wobbly and jerky.

 The reasons for this are:

  • The quality of the movement has not yet been perfected.
  • The speed in which a child learns the movement differs in every person.

 In both of these cases, the movements will become polished. This may be over a period of time and after a lot of practice. Children spend enormous hours at primary school each year. Many hours of school each day involves motor-based activities.

In the classroom
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Cutting
  • Pasting
In the playground
  • Sports
  • Fitness
  • Recess and lunch
  • Climbing

Children who are not as coordinated may acquire poor play skills. Poor motor development in children often means they find it hard to keep up with their peers. These children are likely to be turned away because of the inability to run, climb, catch or throw. This will affect a child's self esteem and they are then placed at risk of becoming socially isolated.

If these play skills are affected these children will not make friendships, and they will be less confident. This will result in an unhappy and very lonely child. Children placed in this situation usually wander around the school playground by themselves.


Consequently it is important for teachers and parents to be aware of children's motor development and the ability to interact with other children socially.

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