perceptual and motor skills“Can you run out into the lawn and kick the soccer ball to me?”

Only when a child has well-developed perceptual and motor skills does this task become simple. Auditory perception is required for listening to directions and sequencing is required for following through. Visual perception is needed to kick the soccer ball and making judgements about where to kick requires body awareness. Skills like these usually naturally develop when kids play popular activities and games. Perceptual and motor skills are skills that are movement-related and are essential aspects of growth and human development. These skills work along with sensory-motor and cognitive development and are responsible largely for the ability of an individual to interact with the environment and to engage in athletic activities.

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Three Phases

Acquiring perpetual and motor skills occurs in 3 phases: the cognitive, associative and autonomous stage. The autonomous stage focuses on improvement of accuracy and speed. The associative stage focuses on practice and the cognitive stage which focuses on what the task involves.


Many perceptual and motor skills such as walking, reaching, jumping, rolling over and crawling are naturally developed on timelines that are normally expected. On the other hand, if one or more than one milestone is delayed or missed, there might be a requirement for some intervention. Once in a while, kids that seem notably inactive in their earlier years might suffer in a perceptual and motor skills delay. Basic intervention can rectify this, which could involve a combination of sensory and physical play.

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Extensively Studied

Perceptual motor skills is something that researchers have a hard time defining but sensory-motor and perceptual-motor skills and their effects on learning, development and growth has been studied extensively. Perceptual and motor skills development is based on the works of Montessori, Gesell and Piaget.


Perceptual and motor skills characteristics can be seen in preschool until primary grades children usually aged two-and-a-half to six years old. These skills combine abilities of movement with academics such as math, language, writing and reading. Children are engaged in activities of movement that integrate movement and perception. Having developed the motor sensory skills to begin to control his body and learn, the child then moves through the environment to gather more information with his senses and practices skills to develop coordination and other perceptual and motor skills. With experiences such as these, more complex body schemes are developed including auditory language skills, visual spatial perception and hand-eye coordination. These are the skills that he will need for daily living behavior and living.

Development and growth are the foundations for cognitive intellect and development. However, none of these developments can take place without opportunities for play and exploration and without nurturing caregivers. Exploration and play that includes opportunities to manipulate things is how children collect information that is sensory. Perceptual and motor skills become developed when he or she can interpret or make sense of the experiences and information. Here is a course entitled Outcome of Parenting Styles and Positive Parenting Skills which shows you the effects of different styles of parenting on children and their adult personalities, and basic positive guidance skills.


When damages that occur to the basal ganglia, a group of neurons that are clustered locate in the bran’s medial temporal lobe have been linked to learning dysfunctions of perceptual and motor skills. With this dysfunction, many disorders such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease result. Issues working with mental switching and memory between tasks that involve memory are affected. When you notice that a child exhibits behavioral issues or is struggling, first check the environment and check problems with sensory integration. If he or she has problems with the inner ear system for balance, a child will have a hard time with spatial concepts, fall easily or need to spend a lot of energy putting focus on remaining in his seat. These children can be helped by encouraging them to play on a rocking chair, on the merry-go-round or on swings. Some children that mix up patters and letters can be helped by leading them in activities using both body sides such as catching large balls or doing jumping jacks.

What is the Sensory Motor Process?

This is the need of the brain for senses stimulation in order to adequately function. There is a lot of support for how important sensory stimulation development is. There is a sequence of events followed by typical development and growth trends. Children pass through stages of development through environment interaction. The environment provides stimulation to the senses to which kids adapt in order to develop and grow.

Sensory Motor Stimulation

In 1952 Piaget wrote that a child develops through the experience of auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactile (touch) modalities which later form the perceptions of the child. Experiences that are sensory are a needed part of an individual’s total development. In 1972 Ayres contended that inadequate integration of the senses accounts for some learning disorders’ aspects. As an intervention, sensory integrative therapy has gained in popularity and is primarily used by occupational therapists.

Active Movement is Important for Optimal Motor Development

Delacato’s Contention

Delacato’s contention is that intellectual development is facilitated by involvement in certain forms of behavior movement. Through a process known as patterning, the key element was hemispheric dominance development. Patterning was when patients practiced missed skills or be assisted passively through movement that lacked dominance that was hemispheric.

Kepart’s Contention

In children with disabilities in learning, the feedback process needed for error correction in movement was faulty. Participating in basic movement forms would help problems with feedback and as a consequence, improve the academic skills learning of the child, such as spelling and reading.

Kepart & Delacato’s Contentions

It is believed by many educators that a program of perceptual and motor skills is a medium that is excelling through which math, social studies, spelling and reading can be facilitated. It has been indicated by a meta-analysis of one hundred eighty studies that children slightly improved in their cognitive abilities when involved in a perceptual and motor skills program. By having your child involved in perceptual and motor skills, you will notice changes that are positive in their motor performance.

Program for Perceptual and Motor Skills

It is through stimulation from the environment that improvement in the perceptual sensory system occurs. Remember, thought that not all types of activity are considered perceptual. Rather, on those that involved children in sensory integrations are considered perceptual. These result in directional and body awareness, temporal awareness which is the ability to predict when stimuli arrives in all senses and spatial awareness, which is audition and vision or understanding external spaces around the child. Perceptual and motor skills also improve vestibular balance.

Spatial Awareness

Perceptual and motor skills also involve spatial awareness which is being aware of the space occupied by your body and how to position and maneuver your body in it. Children are challenged by obstacle courses to plan different types of movement and to be aware how their body fits in the spaces. Objects need to be manipulated to progress through the courses. When you plan a course, include an input that is tactile, such as a hanging beaded curtain over a table or doorway so kids learn that their bodies need to pass through this boundary. A good obstacle course can also be made using hula hoops. Attach scarves or yarn and stand these upright so kids can crawl through them. Let kids hop through them by placing them flat on the floor. You can also suspend them and have kids through soft objects through. Include spaces with a tight squeeze for extra input.

Body Awareness

Perceptual and motor skills involve body awareness. Being able to locate all body parts and understand the functions of these takes awareness of the body, as does the ability to interpret and perceive input from each of your senses. One way you can help increase body awareness is to have students identify objects hidden by their shape, size and texture. You can draw squiggly lines on a dice and have the students draw the shapes that land on their paper. This increases visual awareness. Songs like ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ as well as the ‘Skeleton Dance’ where they sing ‘the toe bone’s connected to the foot bone…’

Directional Awareness

Perceptual and motor skills have to do with directional awareness as well. Differentiating between right and lift, back and front, bottom and top or down and up takes directional awareness. Give every child a bean bag and use directional skills by playing ‘Simon Says.’ Simon might say, ‘Put the beanbag on your feet, on your head, on your left hand or on your shoulder.’ Dance classics like ‘Looby-Loo’ and ‘Hokey Pokey’ are great for children to practice control of their bodies left and right.

Temporal Awareness

To predict how soon moving objects arrive, a sequence of events or to measure the passage of time, children need to have temporal awareness well-developed, which is being aware of time passing. Games requiring children to predict where objects will be at certain times such as hitting balloons with pool noodles, popping bubbles, jumping rope and chasing rolling hula hoops reinforces this. Give kids instruments of rhythm like drums or shakers and play some music. Let them march and dance to the rhythm. Also, give kids a countdown, like saying, ‘3 minutes until cleaning up time’ will give them an idea of how to estimate time passage. Make sure you follow through with accuracy!

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