Motor Development


From neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert:

We have a brain for one reason and one reason only -- that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements. Movement is the only way we have affecting the world around us… I believe that to understand movement is to understand the whole brain. And therefore it’s important to remember when you are studying memory, cognition, sensory processing, they’re there for a reason, and that reason is action.

 From neurologist and author Oliver Sacks:

Much more of the brain is devoted to movement than to language. Language is only a little thing sitting on top of this huge ocean of movement.

2GirlsTubActive Learning is all about being active.  As the two quotes above show, the development of motor skills is critical to so much in terms of a child's overall development.

There are many different motor skills that develop in a predictable sequence. Motor development seems to occur naturally from:

  • Reflexive to intentional movement
  • Top (head) to bottom (toe) movement
  • Near (center body) to far (fingers and toes) movement
  • Gross to fine movement

All children need opportunities to practice motor skills thousands of times before these skills become automatic. As they learn these skills, they can interact with people, places and things better.  This is how they come to know about things and how things work. They gain confidence, too, in their own ability to impact the world around them.

Most children with signigicant developmental delays need systematic support to achieve the necessary motor skills that will help them to grow in all areas including communication, cognition, social and emotional areas.

41GirlEchoBucketDr. Nielsen set out to structure a child's day around alternating fine and gross motor activities (see FIELA Curriculum). She developed numerous "perceptualizing aids" so the child could have many opportunities to practice skills as his developmental level so he could move on to the next level of skills development.

To learn more about motor activities and learning environments that can be implemented in the school, home or community setting we suggest visiting these pages on the Active Learning Space website:

Jack's Progression

Description: This video shows the progression of a boy over a period of approximately 4 years, from lying prone on a Resonance Board to sitting up independently.

jack progression

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

motor development collage