Influence of a Motor Skill Intervention on Fundamental Motor Skill Development of Disadvantaged Preschool Children. (Pedagogy)

Article excerpt

The influence of a 12-week (24, 45-min motor sessions) motor skill intervention on fundamental motor skill (EMS) development of disadvantaged preschoolers was examined. Pre-and postintervention measures of the object control (OC) and locomotor subscales of the Test of Cross Motor Development were obtained for both groups. Prior to the intervention, developmental delays in FMS were reported. Two separate 2 x 2 (Group x Pre-Postintervention) analyses of variance with repeated measures yielded a significant Group x Pre-Postintervention interaction for locomotor, F(1, 57) = 134.23, p = .000, [h.sup.2] = .70, and OC, F(1, 57) = 161.55, p = .000, [h.sup.2] = .74) skills. Compared to the Control group, the motor skill intervention group revealed significantly higher locomotor and OC scores following the intervention than prior to the intervention.

Key words: early childhood, locomotor, motor skill instruction, object control

**********

Fundamental motor skills (FMS) are commonly considered the building blocks to more advanced movement skills and specific sport skills (Gabbard, 2000; Haywood & Getchell, 2001; Payne & Isaacs, 2002; Seefeldt, 1980) and are included in the national content standards in physical education (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1995). In his model of the progression of motor skill proficiency, Seefeldt (1980) proposed that children must learn a certain level of competency in FMS if they are to break through a hypothetical "proficiency barrier" and successfully engage in sport specific skills later in life. Seefeldt suggested that early childhood was the time to best develop FMS. Motor development textbooks (Gabbard, 2000; Haywood & Getchell, 2001; Payne & Isaacs, 2002) support this view, indicating the importance of early childhood for motor skill development. However, these skills do not naturally "emerge" during early childhood, rather, they result from many factors influencing the child's moto r skill development (Newell, 1984, 1986).

Newell (1984, 1986) suggested that motor skill development is based on the interaction between constraints from the task, the organism, and the environment. That is, FMS emerge within a dynamic system consisting of a specific task, performed by a learner with given characteristics, in a particular environment. In this dynamic systems theory perspective, factors (subsystems) within the organism (the learner) will influence motor skill development. For example, motivation, strength, and neurological development, are a few of these many factors. In addition, environmental considerations, such as the equipment used, previous experience, and instruction, may influence motor development. These two factors (organism and environment) are specific to the task being asked of the performer. Given this dynamic view of motor skill development, it may be hypothesized that certain populations of children will be influenced by constraints that retard the development of EMS in early childhood. Preschool children who are iden tified as disadvantaged may be one such group, as they present both environmental and biological (organismic) risk factors in the identification of their disadvantaged status.

Federal law protects young children who are disadvantaged. Federal legislation in the form of Public Law 105-117--Part C & H (1997) identifies and provides for disadvantaged individuals at risk of having substantial developmental delays, if early intervention services are not provided. Incorporated within this legislation is the notion that a child exposed to biological (organismic) or environmental influences (risk factors) may demonstrate a greater probability of developmental delay or educational failure. Given the possible influence of the biological (organismic) and environmental risk factors to which disadvantaged young children are exposed, it may be suggested that these young children will demonstrate developmental delays in FMS development. …