Observational and Motor Learning

Observational and Motor Learning of Introduction For a child to be active and develop physically and cognitively to perform well at home and school, it is necessary that their motor skills are well developed in time. This development of motor skills is quite useful in making children between the ages of three and four years to undertake activities such as using spoons, drawing vertical and horizontal lines, stringing beads, snipping paper using scissors, and rolling clay. Unfortunately, many a child fails to realize these motor-skill developments for a number of reasons. This situation calls on parents, teachers, and health care initiate and implement the right strategies to track the motor-skill development of their young ones (Koralek et al., 2009). Importantly, it is vital to identify the causes of delays in motor-skill development early enough so that such causes are minimized or eliminated all together. This paper explores the development of motor-skills in children aged between 3 and 4 years, the strategies for strengthening delayed motor-skill development, and the use of observational learning to accomplish motor tasks and skills. Theory and Strategies for Motor-Skills Development The theory that best explains motor skill learning in children is the schema theory, which is rather relevant to early childhood education and development, especially in children’s acquisition of motor skills. In essence, the schema theory postulates that people learn endless variety of movements through goal-directed movements, which result in the storage of original conditions, response specification, performance feedback, and results. These four factors or sources of information are integrated to allow a child to repeat a movement or performance slightly varied from the original one. Thus, the schema theory asserts that regular practice of various movements with the same skills empowers one with the experience to enhance performance. There are several strategies by which parents, teachers, and physicians may support motor-skill development in children aged between 3 and 4 years. For toddlers and preschool children preparing for fine motor challenges encountered in school in play, creative, and self help activities, a number of strategies are highly recommended. Among these strategies are poking, pointing, banging, and hammering, in and out games, apart and together games, self-help and sensory games (Connectability.ca, 2013). In poking and pointing, encouraging children to point and poke at items such as pictures, people, and objects help develop their finger movements, especially the index finger. Poking fingers in holes and items such as buttons and doorbells also strengthen the index finger, a rather important finger for pincer grasp. Hammering and banging have the effect of strengthening a child’s grasp and control of arm movement. Self help activities such as finger feeding, spoon and fork feeding, drinking, and dressing skills are the other activities that could really help children develop fine motor skills (Connectability.ca, 2013). Importantly, sensory play with materials, such as sand, water, finger-paints also assist children develop important sensory discrimination in their hands. The strategies may change a bit for school age children during which manipulative toys, painting, coloring, drawing, and multi-sensory visual motor activities are highly recommended. The manipulative toys include pegboards, blocks, transformers, building toys, lacing, and puzzles. These games not only strengthen the finger but also develop small finger movement. Cutting, self help, and computer games are the other recommended strategies for children aged between three and four with delayed or impaired motor skill development (Gabbard, 2013). With regards to computers, activities such as using the mouse and keyboard help children to develop eye-hand coordination. Observational Learning of Motor Skills Observational learning has been identified as one of the techniques by which motor skills could be learnt by children aged between three and four years old. As a matter of fact, it is an ever-present characteristic of human behavior to learn new actions via observation. Examples of actions that a child may learn via observation are placing a saddle on a horse and dancing among others (NAEYC, 2010). In many cases, observations are accompanied by physical practice, which is quite crucial in motor task learning. Past and current research has also shown that observational learning, cognitive learning, and neuro-physiological learning reinforce physical learning. With current human neuro-imaging techniques showing the role of the brain systems in motor skill and task learning, observation is a rather effective strategy in promoting motor skills. The theoretical background in this assertion is that children learn to stand, walk, use a fork, or even drive a car by first observing others perform these tasks (Cross Seel, 2013). They then practice it themselves. Parents should thus recognize that children’s daily activities such as getting dressed, eating, and writing (fine motor skills) require that the children’s small muscles in the hands are controlled and coordinated. Children do not only have to observe but also do these things themselves whenever opportunities appear. Conclusion Fine motor development strategies help young children to use their hands more and with increased precision. While newborn infants have random arm movements with reflex grasps, at 3 or 4 years and with proper guidance and practice, children can make precise finger and arm movements to play with manipulative toys, use scissors, print, and pick up objects. These are some of the developmental stages that a child undergoes to attain functional levels of fine motor ability. It is thus the responsibility of parents, physicians, and educators to apply the right strategies on children, depending on their age and level of motor skills development. References Connectability.ca (2013). Practical Strategies for Developing Fine Motor Skills: Introduction to Fine Motor Development. Retrieved on July 15, 2013 form http://connectability.ca/2011/03/21/practical-strategies-for-developing-fine-motor-skills/ Cross, E. S., and Seel, N. M. (2013). Encyclopedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures. Springer. Gabbard, C. P. (2013). Motor skill learning in children. Education Resources Information. Koralek, D., Gillespie, L., and Petersen, S. (2009). Watching, Wondering, and Learning Together: Best Practices with Infants and Toddlers. NAEYC. NAEYC (2010). Getting a Grip on Things: Building Fine Motor Skills, Message in a Backpack. Teaching Young Children,3(5): 28. Schickedanz, J. A., and Collins, M. F. (2010). So much more than the ABCs: The early phases of reading and writing. NAEYC.