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.
Active 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. At the earliest stages of development it is hard to separate the development of motor skills from the development of cognitive, sensory, emotional and social skills development. It is through movement that we are able to experience and explore our world. Many children with significant developmental delays are unable to access information because of their physical and sensory challenges.
We separate out motor skills on the Active Learning Space simply to make it convenient for you to locate information you may need. Dr. Nielsen’s entire curriculum (the FIELA curriculum) is based on fine and gross movement activities that she suggests alternating throughout the day. This does not mean that the goals in an activity or learning environment are only focused on motor development, but rather they serve as the vehicle for learning.
There are many different motor skills that develop in a predictable sequence. Motor development occurs 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 significant 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. Their progress may take a longer time, but most children can attain many important motor skills if given daily opportunities, supports, and incentive to get moving.
Dr. 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 at his developmental level so he could move on to the next level of skills development.
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.