Solved IGNOU Assignment >> MPC002 >> Q7

7. Describe motor development that takes place during middle childhood.

Motor development refers to the development of motor skills in children – the ability to co-ordinate muscles for different types of movements. Motor skills are of two types – Gross motor skills and Fine motor skills. We briefly look at what they are and their development during middle childhood.

Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills are skills that involve large-muscle activities, such as moving one’s arms and walking.

During middle and late childhood, children’s motor development becomes much smoother and more coordinated than it was in early childhood. Running, swimming, and skating are few of the many physical skills elementary school children can master. When mastered, these physical skills are a source of great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. A study of 9-year-olds revealed that those who were more physically fit had a better mastery of motor skills (Haga, 2008).

In gross motor skills involving large-muscle activity, boys usually outperform girls.

As children move through the elementary school years, they gain greater control over their bodies and can sit and pay attention for longer periods of time. However, they are far from being physically mature, and they need to be active. Elementary school children become more fatigued by long periods of sitting than by running, jumping, or bicycling (Rink, 2009). Physical action is essential for these children to refine their developing skills. Children benefit from exercise breaks periodically during the school day on the order of 15 minutes every two hours (Keen, 2005).

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve finely tuned movements that require finger dexterity. Example: using a spoon or buttoning a shirt.

Increased myelination of the central nervous system is reflected in the improvement of fine motor skills during middle and late childhood. Myelination involves the covering of the axon with a myelin sheath, a process that increases the speed with which information travels from neuron to neuron.

By middle childhood, children can use their hands adroitly as tools.
· 6 yrs: can hammer, paste, tie shoes, and fasten clothes.
· 7 yrs: children’s hands have become steadier. Children prefer a pencil to a crayon for printing, and reversal of letters is less common. Printing becomes smaller.
· 8-10 yrs: children can use their hands independently with more ease and precision; children can now write rather than print words. Letter size becomes smaller and more even.
· 10-12 yrs: children begin to show manipulative skills similar to the abilities of adults. The complex, intricate, and rapid movements needed to produce fine-quality crafts or to play a difficult piece on a musical instrument can be mastered.

Girls usually outperform boys in fine motor skills.

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To summarize, there is significant motor development during middle childhood. Due to improvement in gross motor skills children can now run, swim, skate etc. However, they need frequent exercise breaks to practice these skills. With increased myelination the fine motor skills such as writing, painting, needlework etc. show significant improvement.