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Understanding Physical Development in Young Children (page 3)

By — North Dakota State University Extension Service
Updated on Mar 10, 2011

Types of Movement and Their Benefits for Children

Children need to move and be active in many different ways to reach their full physical development. Remember the following points:

  • Children grow and mature at individual rates.
  • Children's motor development progresses through a sequence.
  • Children need to build on what they know, going from simple to complex.

Different types of physical movement are important in a child's physical development. Parents and caregivers can benefit from learning the importance of patterns of physical development to support children as they learn to move and develop physical abilities.

The types of physical movement that children engage in and are important to their physical development include the following categories:

Locomotor Movement

Movement of the body from place to place is involved in locomotor movement. Physical abilities such as crawling, walking, hopping, jumping, running, leaping, galloping and skipping are examples of locomotor movement. This type of movement helps develop gross-motor skills.

Nonlocomotor Movement

Movement of the body while staying in one place is involved in nonlocomotor movement. Physical abilities such as pushing, pulling, twisting, turning, wiggling, sitting and rising are examples of nonlocomotor movement. This type of movement helps develop balance and coordination skills.

Manipulative Movement

Movement that involves controlled use of the hands and feet is reflected in manipulative movement. Physical abilities such as grasping, opening and closing hands, waving, throwing and catching are examples of manipulative movement. This type of movement helps develop fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Conclusion

Running, jumping, skipping, hopping, drawing, cutting, pasting, stacking - these are the skills young children develop as they grow physically.

They make possible the interactions and activities that bring richness and enjoyment to anyone's life.

From muscles to motor skills, the unfolding picture of a child's physical development is an exciting experience to observe.

Parents and caregivers should pay attention to their child's physical growth and give loving support as their children develop these skills.

Recommended Resources

Books and Articles

Bayley, N. (1993). Bayley Scales of Infant Development (2nd ed.). New York: Psychological Corp.

Research-based guidelines related to a child's growth and development. Useful for assessment and under-standing of key growth indicators.

Hammet, C.T. (1992). Movement Activities for Early Childhood. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.

Useful resource highlighting different types of movement activities that can assist young children with physical development.

Kristensen, N. (2001). Basic Parenting Focus Issue: Motor Development. Minneapolis, Minn.: Family Information Services.

Very useful set of materials and handouts summarizing key points related to a young child's physical growth and development.

Mayesky, M. (1999). Creative Activities for Children. Thomson Publishing.

Useful resource highlighting activities that can be done with young children to stimulate growth and development.

Malina, R.M., and C. Bouchard. (1991). Growth, Maturation, and Physical Activity. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

Excellent text on the scientific understanding of physical growth and development in human beings.

Your Baby is Growing Strong; Your Baby is Learning to Play; Your Baby is Becoming a Person; Your Child is Growing Strong; Your Child is Learning to Play; Your Child is Becoming a Person (charts). (1997.) Minneapolis, Minn.: MELD.

Usefult set of charts on a baby's growth and development.

Individuals and Organizations

If you have concerns about your child's physical growth and development, you have a number of individuals and organizations you can contact for further information. These might include:

  • Your local pediatrician or family doctor
  • Your local county or public health unit
  • Your local Head Start program
  • Your county Extension office
References

Bayley, N. (1993). Bayley Scales of Infant Development (2nd ed.). New York: Psychological Corp.

Berk, L.E. (1989). Child Development. Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon.

Clare, L., and H. Garnier. (2000). Parents' goals for adolescents diagnosed with developmental delays in early childhood. Journal of Early Adolescence, 20(4), 442-446.

Hammet, C.T. (1992). Movement Activities for Early Childhood. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.

Kristensen, N. (2001). Basic Parenting Focus Issue: Motor Development. Minneapolis, Minn.: Family Information Services.

Malina, R.M., and C. Bouchard. (1991). Growth, Maturation, and Physical Activity. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

Payne, V. G., and L.D. Isaacs. (1987). Human Motor Development: A Lifespan Approach. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield.

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