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. EXPRESSION 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 the typing of tests
and/or assignments or permitting tests to be taken orally with the same
questions given to other classmates so that the child can succeed at a par with
peers. The second form of compensation, for these children, involves concrete
methods to improve their visual-manual skills through such tasks as a program
for the development of visual motor perception, pegboards, tracing, blocks, and
other tasks involving finger dexterity, hand-eye coordination and fine motor
coordination. READINESS AND MOTIVATION Body image is the child’s own feelings
about his/her body and total self-concept. The theory of perception that best
illustrates the importance of bodily perceptions to the child’s perception of
the environment was presented by Werner and Wapner (Cratty1970) in their
sensory-tonic theory of perception in which they made the contention that"body tonus influences various spatial judgment." Their data indicates that
during the first seven years of life, a child is very dependent on his bodily
perceptions. Barraga (Whitcraft 1972) emphasized that for the visually
handicapped the range and variety of concrete experiences and materials in all
academic learning during the elementary years were of primary importance.

Barraga also acknowledged Gibson’s view of the importance of motoric
involvement of each body part with the physical world for refining and
discriminating perceptions and for receiving and interpreting environmental
impressions. Body image is an important factor in a child’s readiness for
learning. However, one must not infer that good body image or training in the
perceptual motor area will lead to or is a sign of good intelligence. Skubic and
others (1970) state that "as yet there is little factual evidence available
which indicates the precise relationship of perceptual-motor ability to
conceptual ability and to intelligence, and the results we do have are still
inconclusive." She states that the following researchers have reported zero to
low correlations between intelligence and various types of motor performance.

Beck, 1957; Ryan, 1963; Schaffer, 1959; Singer, 1968; Singer and Brunk, 1967.

Biddulph, 1954; Ismail and Gruber, 1967; Rarick and McGee, 1949, have reported
more significant relationships. Howard and Templeton (Cratty 1970), after a
thorough survey of the literature on spatial orientation, shape recognition, and
reproduction, concluded that young children are first able to recognize and
reproduce shapes without ant concern as to their upright position. Later, after
establishing their own body images, they can place the figures in the correct
position relative to up and down and left and right. They suggest that some kind
of body image concept must precede spatial orientation. The child that develops
awareness past his or her age norm may also be behind the norm in spatial
relationships, which could hinder his ability to read, to write, and to perform
other basic intellectual functions such as sequencing. It could therefore be
assumed that training in body image might aid the child in establishing the
concepts of spatial orientation and shape recognition. Training for increasing
body image involves creating awareness of personal body parts and their position
in space in relation to the world around the child. Hellmuth (1968) states that"if the child is not aware of these subtle kinds of things about the person
and the environment, it is doubtful if the child can be expected to form later
more complex judgments inherent in many classroom learning tasks." Several
methods may be utilized in developing a concept of body image. This writer feels
that one should begin with a program of sensory motor integration as outlined by

Jean Ayres (1973). A second program could be the Frostig Program for the

Development of Visual Perception, which involves teaching the child laterality,
directionality and body schema, resulting in an increasing awareness on the part
of the child concerning personal body image. A third program is the diagnostic
remedial program of Kephart’s Purdue Perceptual Motor Survey, which is a
sequence, designed to utilize movement as well as tactile methods in introducing
the child to the limit and outreaches of the body. Along with the development of
an accurate body image, Kephart (1970) also advocates basic motor, which he
feels, will increase the child’s readiness for school tasks. He maintains that
one must help a child to establish what are termed "motor generalizations".

These include: 1. Posture and balance. Both are necessary for accurate
perceptual judgement because they supply the stable base for the body. 2.

Locomotion. Mobility allows the child to learn about spatial relationships
within the environment 3. Contact. If the child does not have direct contact
with the objects around him or her there may be a deficit in manipulative
skills, which would prevent the child from becoming aware of objects, shapes,
and textures. 4. Receipt and propulsion. Throwing and catching balls, bean bags,
rings, etc. help a child to learn about velocities, sizes, and distances in
space. 5. Motor Generalizations. The two main motor generalizations, body image
and laterality, are essential for the perceptual organization of the child's
world which in turn makes it possible for the child to achieve sound
intellectual functioning. Singer (1968) points out that motor activity has also
proved valuable as a means of "eliciting optimum levels of arousal"
for the performance of a task. Several experiments have demonstrated a definite
relationship between the quality and quantity of obvious motor outputs of
children and their ability and/or inclination to engage in various tasks within
the classroom. Cratty (1970) has discovered that there appear to be
"optimum levels of alertness, activation, or arousal necessary for the
efficient performance of a task." He maintains that simple tasks require a
higher level of arousal than complex tasks, perhaps because of a challenge or
interest factor. This writer feels that there is some truth in this but feels
that vestibular stimulation, as written about by Jean Ayres (1973) is the cause
of the higher arousal. Courts and Freeman (Cratty 1970) in a series of
experiments observed that if a person's muscular tension was raised by pressing
on a hand-grip with fifty per cent of their maximal hand pressure, that person
would perform better on tasks consisting of memorizing word lists and similar
cognitive-verbal tasks. The tension or release of energy resulting from the
gripping seemed to raise the level of activation. Railo's Norwegian experiment
in which he administered several hundred seventh graders a two- hour exam
followed by a two-hour mental task and then another two-hour exam produced
unexpected resu.1te. The children with good physical fitness per- formed more
poorly on the final test than the 'unfit' children. Thus it was concluded that
the fit children "with high capacities" for movement and presumably
high needs for movement were hampered by the prolonged period of confinement
while the less fit children felt less need for physical activity. Cratty felt
that the results of this experiment would imply that active children need
frequent opportunities to move in order to bring their "full attention and
full intellectual energy to their academic work" and that the most
effective way to remedy the situation is to integrate movement activities with
academic work. This writer feels that this should be common practice, where
needed, for all developmental and/or remedial programs. The use of motor games
as reinforcement for good performance or as a learning task in itself is another
way in which motor activity serves as a motivation for a young child. The use of
motor activity has also been a positive factor in experiments attempting to
lengthen the attention spans of elementary school-age children. Mercy (1965)
found a high correlation between scores elicited from directions like "draw
a line as slowly as you can" and "walk from here to there as slowly as
you can" and I.Q. scores. Slowing a child down and aiding him or her to
achieve degrees of motor control will not necessarily improve mental capacities
but it does present the child with an opportunity to exhibit intellectual
knowledge. Another method of increasing the attention span of a child is through
sustained tasks on the balance beam. Present the child with tasks to perform on
the balance beam, such as walk from one end of the beam to the other and then
gradually increase the length of the beam. (Gearheart, 1973). MOTOR LEARNING

Kephart (1960) maintains that we cannot think of perceptual activities and motor
activities as two different items; we must think of the hyphenated term
perceptual-motor. "Just as in our thinking we cannot separate what part of
the child's activities in any task, such as copying a figure, is motor and what
part is perceptual, in our teaching we cannot separate what parts of the
activity are perceptual and what parts are motor. The total perceptual-motor
process should be considered in every learning activity, which we set up for the
child. Learning experiences should be designed for him in terms of this total
process in order to obtain the desired results. " There are several methods
in use today which may be termed 'motor learning' or learning through the use of
motor activity. Some of the most common ones are those by such people as

Marianne Frosting, Musk Moisten, Newell Kephart, Gerald German, Ray Barch, and

Bryant Crate. Marianne Frosting has a test based system (Gearheart, 1973). The
classroom teacher may administer her test in groups. She has five subtests which
measure various skills which she states "are necessary to success in
academics". She has a series of training exercises in both gross and fine
motor skills. Her test is limited to visual-perceptual skills, and the program
is basically a visual-perception program. Musk Moisten (Hellmuth, 1968) involves
a theoretical framework in which a child can be led in an orderly manner from
situations in which he simply responds to commands, to situations in which he
actively engages in problem solving and can see for himself the quality of his
decisions through movement. Following Mosston's general guidelines, the Visual

Motor Center of Montreal has developed a motor learning program for elementary
children using an intrasensory approach. The program involves the use of large
forms such as a climbing wall, a "people-size" barrel, and various
sized balls attached to strings hanging from the ceiling. The forms are designed
to improve the child's physical coordination while a multi-directional series of
tasks serves to increase the child's mental capacities in coordination with his
motor patterns. The series consists of tasks organized into five areas: 1. Body

Image 2. Motor Planning 3. Laterality 4. Balance 5. Visualization Another
perceptual-motor approach is that put forth by Newell Kephart (1969). He
illustrates his emphasis in his theory which is organized into three stages of
learning development – "practical, subjective, and objective all stages
based upon four motor generalizations; posture and maintenance of balance,
contact, locomotor, and receipt and propulsion." The practical stage is the
early stage going back to infancy and lays the foundation for future learning
and the theory that all behavior is basically motor. Many specific motor skills,
such as walking, may be taught with ease, but the teaching of Movement patterns
presents a more difficult task. Each child should have motor awareness and a
concept of body schema or body image. Once the child has established his body
image, he is able to develop other motor skills such as directionality. The
subjective stage is the second stage of learning development or the
perceptual-motor stage. This stage is based upon motor contact and locomotion.

Reach, grasp, and release enable the child to manipulate and explore object
shapes in terms of movement and body schema. Locomotion enables the child to
explore space. The objective stage is the perceptual stage and is reached only
after the child has passed through the other two stages. One problem in this
stage faced by the child is that of crossing the body midline as the pattern
changes from outside-in to inside-out, but does not change in shape. Kephart's
manual for the classroom teacher is divided into four major sections: 1.
chalkboard training 2. sensory-motor training 3. training ocular control 4.
training form perception Under each section many activities are suggested that
will strengthen perceptual-motor skills. For example, under chalkboard training
come scribbling, finger painting, drawing circles, and other geometric forms.

Problems in children in many classrooms are quite often perceptual-motor in
nature. Therefore, remediation is aimed at those skills. Although the
perceptual-motor problems are usually anatomical or physical in nature, a
restricted classroom environment magnifies them. Children do not have a chance
for adequate practice or development in some very basic abilities such as
eye-hand coordination, form perception, and spatial relationships. Many of the
activities suggested by Kephart are already used in many kindergartens and first
grade rooms, but sometimes not to a great extent. More practice in many of these
activities would, perhaps, help more children develop their basic motor skills.

Gerald Getman (1970) emphasizes a developmental approach to visual perception.

Getman and his associates have developed a program of visuomotor training. It is
based upon the belief that visual perception is learned and that it evolves from
actions of the entire organism. He also believes it is necessary to have good
coordination of the body parts and body systems in order to develop perception
of forms and symbols. The foundation of Getman's training program of growth and
development is associated with the first five years of life. There are six
developmental areas or stages as follows: (1) General Movement Patterns – When
a child moves he learns. Without movement, learning does not take place.

Eye-hand coordination is achieved early and sets the pattern for further
learning. (2) Special Movement Patterns - The movement patterns are extended and
all parts of the body are used. The body gets ready for further perceptual work.
(3) Eye Movement Patterns - Action is reduced and vision replaces general or
special movements. The hands are freed for more economical uses. (4)

Communications or Visual Language Patterns – This replaces action and the
mastery of speech takes place. (5) Visualization Pattern - Sometimes called
visual memory, this involves the recall of previous learning, the matching up of
things already known, and the inspection of new learnings (6) Visual Perceptual

Organization – This stage of development makes it possible for an individual
to interchange body mechanisms when interpreting the environment. Vision remains
most important in interpretation. Another approach is that by Ray Barsch. Barsch
is a man very much interested with the world of space and movement within that
space. According to him (1965), a curriculum for children with learning
disabilities can have only one objective, namely "to correct whatever
impediments stand in the way of the child taking full advantage of the offerings
of the regular curriculum." The deficits that a learning disabled child
exhibits cannot, as a rule, be explained as basically intellectual or emotional;
therefore, one must consider the child as a sensory-perceptual- motor organism.

Since the "usual" curriculum has failed with many of these special
children, then an "unusual" curriculum is required. Movigenic (Barsch

1970) is "the study of the origin and development of movement patterns
leading to learning efficiency." The movement theory, based on movigenics,
is the basis for Barsch's physiologic program. This theory of movement is based
upon ten postulates encompassing the work of many theorists and researchers.

Without exception, all of the postulates deal with man as a moving being within
a spatial world. A movigenic curriculum is one in which the child with a problem
in learning receives the opportunity to explore and experience himself in space.

A brief description of an actual classroom might give some idea of the operation
of the movigenic theory. All windowpanes are covered with black plastic sheeting
(this allows for complete control of lighting). Lines are painted on the floor
to mark where children will stand for chalkboard writing, transport routes, and
other activities. A three-foot strip of carpet on the floor provides a surface
for crawling and rolling. Children go barefooted or in stocking feet. Activities
are planned carefully, but no effort is made to follow a regular order of
activity. Equipment used includes walking and balancing rails, tracing
templates, scooter and teeterboards, plastic balls, a metronome, Cuisenaire
rods, and many other concrete materials. McCarthy and McCarthy (1970) conclude
that a "movigenic approach might work well with some children and not at
all with others, depending on the cause of their inept school performance."

Bryant cratty (1969) has developed a motor learning program where teachers may
work with a classroom on a task such as shape recognition using tactile and
visual modalities. Then the teacher takes the students to a playground which is
composed of huge shapes which the children can name, play on, play in, play
around, and explore. The type of transfer that develops from this direct
intercourse with the form is something much more valuable than any picture or
lecture. This new playground concept was developed from studies made by Cratty
which demonstrated that the acquisition of gross movement patterns at times
influenced the acquisition of small movement patterns and from studies by E.

Dean l@yan that indicated that there are individuals who seem to block stimuli
presented to them kinesthetically and visually and prefer rather to move,
creating their own input. The playground itself consists of four areas including
grids, lines, squares, circles, forms, etc. An example of how the learning
playground is used is illustrated by the child who is learning his letters. He
begins by exploring the different shapes and analyzing how shapes form letters.

He later becomes familiar with the letters themselves through work on the letter
grids. Cratty's overall philosophy, which this writer believes should be a
guideline for all learning situations, is that children be exposed to a variety
of perceptual-motor activities, which are presented in the order of their
difficulty, including such areas as balance, agility, manual skill and ball
handling, and most important he believes that children should be well motivated
when they perform and not simply pushed into the intellectual competitive race
(1969). This writer feels that basic to the above theories is that of Jean Ayres
(1972,1973) dealing with sensory-motor-integration. Much of that written above,

Ayres also discusses - but from a more neurological point of view. Her theory is
extremely believable after one has spent some time in the field applying other
perceptual-motor theories. Ayres states (1972) that"disorders consistently
observed in learning disabled children that are suggestive of inadequate sensory
integration in the brain stem are immature postural reactions, poor extraocular
muscle control, poorly developed visual orientation to environmental space,
difficulty in the processing of sound into percepts, and the tendency toward
distractibility." It is felt by this writer that most, if not all, of the
theories being applied in L.D. classes are overlooking basic
sensory-motor-integration theory, thereby causing more luck than skill to be the
effective agent in their remedial or developmental programs in perceptual-motor
skills There are, of course, other views in this field,, but the above are
representative of the group. Movement is important to learning and some would
put a great deal of emphasis on it. This writer feels that it is basic but
should be combined with other skills such as auditory. One other interesting
aspect, not covered in this paper, is that research (Fisher 1971) has shown that
the mentally retarded child is inferior to normal children in motor performance.

Experimental studies show that motor proficiency in retarded children can be
improved through motor training. If poor motor performance can be remediated, an
improvement could take place in the perceptual process as well. This would
apply, in the most part, to those children with a learning disability. Programs
involving perceptual motor development need to be carefully studied before use
so that the instructor has a clear understanding of what to do, what to expect,
what is needed. After the disability is diagnosed, then it must be decided which
tasks are needed for development or remediation. Any young child in the primary
grades that has a learning disability problem may need some motor work and would
probably benefit from some, but this would be determined only after diagnosing
the disability. In conclusion, perception, motion, and academic achievement do
relate to each other. One is needed to help the other.

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