Perceptual Motor Development


According to (Adams, 1964), It is difficult to separate perceptual activities from motor activities since perceptual concepts have their foundation in motor abilities. There is a correlation between a child’s efficiency in thinking with his/her motor abilities as well as activities where the former depends on the later. The importance of this perceptual development on motor abilities at an early age has received much attention from researchers. Researchers try to understand its impact to the child’s future and its relation to children with disabilities in learning as well as those who are quite normal. The ways in which this development is applied in children so as to enhance an experience in learning and building perceptual as well as motor abilities, are also studied. Another area in which importance of perceptual development in motor abilities applies is in children’s plays and its importance, early development in children particularly those suffering from Down syndrome as well as the study of neurological dysfunction.

Characteristics of Children Highly In Need Of Perceptual Development in Motor Abilities

There are some children who experience delays in the development processes of their cognitive, affective as well as psychomotor domains of learning. These categories of children demonstrate deficits in such areas as dynamic as well as static balance and laterality which is shown by the kid’s ability to identify parts of his/her body as well as getting an understanding of how those specific parts function. Another area is that of direction, where children experience difficulties in differentiating right from left, effective utilization of space, understanding relationships between space and time, perception of depth, visual tracking, as well as difficulties in crossing a middle line. Perceptual development in motor abilities is also a necessity in children experiencing difficulties in motor skills of the gross category which include jumping, running, hopping, sliding, galloping, kicking, throwing, dribbling and striking. Others have difficulties in the fine category of motor skills, including tying knots and shoe laces, manipulating instruments as well as opening of lids. Coordination of eyes with hands and vice versa is also a deficit that needs the application of perceptual motor development. (Hallahan, 1973)

However, there are larger categories of deficits including balance which is determined by spatial awareness of that particular child. Balance is also determined by the temporal awareness which is the relationship between time and a child’s body, resulting to different levels of rhythm, coordination and sequence. The other determinants of balance are body awareness as well as directional awareness, with the later relating to laterality and directionality. Perceptual development of motor abilities is undertaken through a number of processes that involve sensory input and integration, where a care giver leads a child into an activity that is specially selected according to needs of that child. Directions are given for a child to follow which calls for a lot of patient from the side of his/her care giver. Movements are selected and practiced, each movement at a time, where time is located according to the level of each need. Results of the particular movements applied are referred to as feedback, which is received through the child’s senses. A child shows changes in his or her behavior as directed by senses consequently leading to reproduction of development or correction. This is the final outcome of application of perceptual development abilities, where a child shows better coordination of motor skills with his/her perceptions. This kind of development has a number of components which include visual perception, where a child is supposed to improve in his/her visual ability. Others are kinesthetic perception as well as auditory perception.

Though this particular study does not involve those children of school going age, it has been noted that acquisition of development in such skills helps in increasing readiness of a child’s academic skills. It therefore occurs that improving a child’s insufficiency in balance, inability to fixate, pursue or even track an object will enable that child portray signs of improvements in the classroom at a later stage. A parent or care giver can achieve this by ensuring that most of the child’s activities have different games incorporated in them which are in line with his/her needs deficit.

Importance of Perceptual Development in Motor Abilities in Relation To


(Adams, 1964), argues that, children falling in the age bracket of between zero and five years, find play to be very enjoyable as they use it as a means to actively engage in interesting things. Therefore, children need to be led in play or have someone inspiring them as they play so that it remains meaningful as well as relevant to them. Children engage themselves in activities of play at early age of infancy so as to have an understanding of their surrounding. It also helps them in the process of experiencing and learning things on their own, which is very essential in the development of young children. As children engage in playing, they make use of their senses, extremities as well, as their body which enables them to acquire some exercises necessary for their bodies. These exercises have specific benefits to the movement’s fluidity, physical strength, coordination as well as balance for their young bodies. Perceptual development of motor abilities which is the capacity at which children create a coordination of their perception with their movements, is a very important skill for preschoolers. For example, a child who is engaged in scooping, digging and throwing the sand in a bucket need to have perception of that distance between him/her with the bucket, which is supposed to match with movements of his/her hands. This matching of perception with movements is essential in the successful fulfillment of motor activity. Toddlers experience a spurt of motor growth, equipping them to play with any item they come across which may vary from toys to boxes. Preschoolers try to involve others in their play where they may introduce other people at the middle of the game or have it planned earlier. The possession of motor as well as physical skills enables young children to expand their arena of playing to involve a wide area even outdoors pursuits.

Children Suffering From Down syndrome

The developmental progress of children suffering from Down syndrome is usually affected by ongoing problems of their health. Therefore, such children should be left at the care of pediatricians, who is supposed to check for defects in their hearts and consequently give information of risks related to Down syndrome. There are various priorities that are set in order to assist in the development process of such children. Perceptual development in motor abilities is among the many priorities as its delay influence language as well as cognitive development. This delay consequently reduces a child’s exploration level, socialization as well as movements. Perceptual development in motor abilities enables young kids to acquire motor skills that include, reaching, holding, grasping, which is followed by sitting, crawling, rolling and walking, assisting in the exploration of their environment. Some of these babies usually have normal exercise as well as stimulation while others depend on advice from experts, exercises and equipments for survival. They are therefore engaged in activities available in their communities, that may involve sports for example gymnastics, dancing, swimming, horse-riding as well as football. Such activities of sports are essential in motor skills as well as health development for those children suffering from Down syndrome, developing to social and leisure opportunities at latter stages of life. Perceptual development in motor abilities is more effective in this category of children when applied in their early stages of life which may be as early as infancy. (Hallahan, 1973)

Neurological Signs in Children Born Prematurely

It has been found that those children with neurological dysfunction consequently suffer from difficulties in perceptual development in motor abilities or skills. These difficulties result to related problems in neonatal lesions in the child’s brain, behavioral adjustments as well as in their intelligence quotient. Due to this relationship, perceptual development of motor abilities is applied in the assessments of neurological dysfunction. Here, a neurological examination that is structured is used in conjunction with measures of standard cognitive ability, competence in perceptual motor abilities as well as behavior. The first of these assessments of the neurological dysfunction, is level of competence in perceptual development in motor abilities, where two tests are done to provide information that is contrasting and also complementary in some sense. The tests include a global one with a test on the fine as well as gross motor coordination, while the other involves an integration of visual ability with motor abilities. These assessments include a test for integration of vision with motor activities. In this case, a child is given a task of copying geometric shapes from a paper which is done with difficulty; results are recorded in relation to accuracy through which the shapes were copied. A motor activity in this case is the drawing skill, which is applied after a child has interpreted a shape in his/her mind. The scores may range between zero and ten, with those above five being taken as normal while those scoring below five as abnormal. Another assessment of the same is a test of behavior as well as cognitive ability where verbal test are done requiring a child to name a vocabulary appreciating meanings and similarities of those words. These measures a child’s intelligence quotient which is also graded using scores where a high score shows that one is normal and a low indicates abnormality. A high intelligence quotient is also related to a child’s high level of perceptual development in motor abilities as he/she will be able to understand relationships between things with a similar speed, which then portrayed in actions. (Hallahan, 1973)

Rutter scaling is another form of assessment of the dysfunction, where parents or caregivers of such children are requested to show the level of a statement in terms of its relation to his/her child’s behavior. Similarly, scores are given, where those who score less are regarded as having less behavioral problems compared to those with higher scores. An assessment of movements of the children is also done, comprising of manual dexterity, balance as well as ball skills. Each child takes part in balancing, playing with a ball, and performing a manual task that consequently gives their level of performance. Those with high scores are regarded as having high levels of the perceptual development in motor abilities while those scoring low have an abnormality of the same state. Other tests are also performed on those children suffering from neurological dysfunction so as to give a direction on its management which include perceptual development in motor abilities for those who scored poorly in the previous tests. The incorporation of sports as well as play in the young children’s daily schedules helps activate their brain, consequently increasing their level of thinking and other functions of their brain. (Arnheim, 1975)

Alleviation of Clumsiness in Children

According to (Williams, 1983), clumsiness is a situation in which one becomes unable to learn and take part in motor skills in a particular way that is expected of a child of a certain age. Clumsiness is therefore indicated by a number of symptoms that include inadequacy in writing, woodwork, drawing, dressing, as well as playing games among others. A child with such clumsiness is often made a centre of ridicule by fellow playmates as well as some family members. Children start portraying these symptoms at a very early age of even four to five years, where a child is seen to have so much disorganization in almost everything as most of them are already enrolled in pre-schools. It has been found that clumsiness interferes with a child’s academic performance as well as his /her emotional and social development. The level of clumsiness is measured using a longitudinal study of the development of children, examining trends in which perceptual development of motor abilities and behavior follow. The objectives of such a study is to obtain kinesthesis’ developmental trends, and processes in which motor abilities of a child is programmed. Another includes the examination of how results of kinaesthesis’ trends relate with motor abilities’ development. In most cases, clumsy children portray slow kinaesthesis’ trends which consequently lead to slow paced development in perception and performance of motor abilities. The third objective of this study is to have an establishment of effective and accelerated development of kinaesthesis as well as prevention of the state of clumsiness which is also known as a dysfunction in perceptual motor abilities. However, quite a number of children being enrolled in primary schools posses this problem of clumsiness since they lack well developed ability in kinaesthesis. Kinesthetic ability is of great importance in learning processes as well as acquisition of education as it also demands the application of motor skills. Therefore, kinesthetic development gets accelerated in order to enable those children respond adequately to demands of motor skills in education. Some of the children respond very well to acceleration of development in kinaesthesis, while others have training working for them in the alleviation of kinesthetic dysfunction. However, this is not a very big cause of clumsiness in infants as they have not reached an age where they are required to differentiate between neatness and clumsiness though it applies to those children between four to five years. This is from the studies that argue that kinesthetic dysfunction, which is related to a low level of perceptual development in motor ability is only considered a factor when its manifestation is needed in learning activities of a school program. Therefore, acceleration of perceptual development in motor abilities works to correct the children’s state of clumsiness.


From the above studies, it’s evident that perceptual motor development is of great importance to children aged between zero and five years. Some may think that it’s a very tender age for children to show signs of development but these studies argue differently. Perceptual development in motor abilities is considered to be best developed at an early stage of a child’s life so as to have effective development as well as impact in his/her life. It’s argued that this kind of development is essential in the alleviation of various kinds of dysfunctions in children aged between zero and five years. Acceleration as well as training in various activities that accelerate this kind of development is applied on children suffering from those dysfunctions. Such activities include the various kinds of games which are incorporated in children’s schedule of activities hence accelerating the level at which their brains perform and coordinates activities. Therefore, perceptual development in motor activities has proved to be very essential in the programs for early education. This is because children aged between three to five years are usually enrolled in early education, shifting the task to their teachers. Teachers of such young kids need to be enlightened on issues related to perceptual development of motor abilities as they are expected to guide children in this kind of development. Enough time need to be allocated to every child, which is essential in following up of each child’s progress. (Arnheim, 1975)


Adams J. (1964): Motor Skills: Annual Reviews pp12-20.

Arnheim D. (1975): A program of motor therapy: Mosby pp16-20.

Hallahan D. (1973): Psycheducational foundations of learning disabilities: Prentice Hall pp14-19.

Williams H. (1983): Perceptual and motor development: Prentice Hall pp23-27.

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