Motor Training

Motor training to develop readiness, motivation and means of expression, as a basis for learning programs

Motor activity is fast becoming a valuable aid in the teaching of academic subjects to elementary school children. The realization of the place motor activity has in the classroom does not imply that physical activity is a prerequisite to learning but rather a method through which a child can learn more easily and understand more fully. Training in physical coordination is not only helpful in providing a child with a mode for expressing what has been learned, but it has become a factor in instilling in the child a willingness and readiness to learn and has also introduced itself as a base for a learning program.
One writer, Maritain (1966), has described the function of education as primarily a source of liberation. In the case of the child whose learning problems stem from a learning disability, this liberation would consist of allowing the child to move about, to explore, and to receive impressions, to respond and to express.
This call for movement as a basis of learning is further substantiated by Getman’s theory that the skill of motor control and coordination is a necessary prerequisite to every intellectual activity. Cratty (1970) further states that movement is learning; learning requires movement.
Some theorists seem to attribute all intellectual achievement to motor development rather than viewing motor activity as an aid to learning. One theory implies that certain motor activities when properly applied would prepare children in the intellectual areas of spelling, reading, and similar intellectual tasks during the child’s first year in school. Cratty 1970). This theory may hold true if the motor activities are somehow related to the intellectual processes involved. It is important to remember that normal children have other resources to draw upon, namely a brain which permits the thinking and processing of ideas; movement alone cannot guarantee intellectual achievement but motor activity incorporated with intellectual processes can be tremendously successful.
One of the most undisputed ways in which intellect is affected by motor coordination is in tasks involving the written expression of intellectual thoughts in a certain area. One clinical study involving children whose verbal intelligence quotients were fifty points above their performance IQs showed that these children experienced a great deal of frustration when directed to convey their thoughts to written word. (Hellmuth 1968). Although the problem may involve the children’s ability to express themselves there is a great possibility that they cannot write quickly or well and that the frustration experienced when placed in the writing situation interferes with their ability to formulate and express their thoughts.
It should be noted that this writer is aware of other causes of inability in written expression other than strictly motor incoordination. As stated by Johnson and Myklebust, (1967) some children cannot transduce visual information to the motor system. This does not necessarily result from a visual or motor defect but as this paper is not about disorders of written language it will not be explored here.
Since many of the so-called “show-what-you-know” tests are actually speed tests, a child with an eye-motor incoordination is handicapped by an inability to write quickly and accurately. If a child cannot move the hands accurately when putting thoughts on paper, usually academic difficulties will appear which could, in turn, lower the child’s self-concept and contribute to the cause of an emotional problem. Grace Fernald (1973) points out the importance of avoiding a negative self-concept, due to failures, and the resultant emotional disorder. Myklebust (1968) points out that training in any aspect of a child’s psychological development, such as motor, language, perception, and higher cognitive functions will help the child’s emotional adjustment which will in turn lead to the ability to learn in school. One cannot always determine if the learning problem is primary or secondary to the emotional problem. Myklebust (1971) states that the following authors feel that a positive relationship exists between the two variables of learning and emotional problems; Bender, 1956, Bryant, 1966, Fernald, 1943, Gates, 1941, Giffen, 1968, Harris, 1970, Natchez, 1968, and Rabinovitch, 1962.
Bryant Cratty (1969) recommends that children with visual-motor deficits be given special attention motorically and practically. The latter involves simply allowing the child alternative modes of expression, such as allowing