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Movement Experiences for Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D Bredin
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Coordination is the ability to integrate the actions of different parts of the body to produce smooth, successful movements (Kent, 2006). Motor control is at the base of all human movement and coordination is no exception, the body’s nervous system develops and acquires strategies to reduce complications with coordination (Ivanenko et al., 2005). Without coordination, children are unable to participate in dynamic activities as it is an important aspect in successful movement development and a precursor to potential skill level related to sports in later life (Kid Sense, 2015). Although coordination is instrumentally important in everyday life, there has been little research conducted on it.


According to the Oxford Dictionary, Coordination is defined as the organization of the different elements of a complex body or activity to enable them to work together effectively (Dictionary, 2015). Simply put coordination is the ability to integrate different parts of the body to produce movement.

Importance of Coordination

Coordination is a precursor to a child’s future skill level in sports, academic performance and attitude towards school; therefore it is an important element in a child’s development (Ireland, 2013). Coordination is used in every day life, from a simple task such as walking to a more specific task such picking up blocks, without it children would struggle with daily tasks. Early childhood is a landmark for motor development, without developing coordination children will struggle mastering motor skills (Bobbio, 2009).

Developing Coordination

Coordination is something that begins to develop at a very young age. Since coordination develops through practicing and mastering different movements, coordination exercises should be introduced in pre-adolescence. The movements that children learn in pre-adolescence will change once they hit puberty as their bones and bodies are growing (Grasso, 2011). During post-adolescence coordination will change again as the bones will reach their maturity. It is noted that children who are not naturally gifted with coordination will never reach the potential of a coordinated child regardless of the training that takes place (Grasso, 2011). When developing coordination in children, the child may be more advanced in rhythm than they are balance; it is important to acknowledge the weaker aspects of their coordination and look to develop them. Basic exercises such as skipping, running, jumping, mirror games; arm circles and obstacle running are all good basic exercises to develop the various components of coordination (Grasso, 2011).

Components of Coordination

Coordination is achieved when there is movement or motion from an individual; this motion is not possible without certain physiological systems to aid in coordinated movement. Balance, rhythm and spatial orientation are all aspects contributing to coordination (Grasso, 2011).


A child achieves balance when they are able to maintain a controlled body position during a task or performance (Kid Sense, 2015). Balance is optimal when the center of gravity remains over the area of support (Clark & Watkins, 2010). Balance plays a fundamental role aiding in the development of gross motor skills, these gross motor skills are key contributors to developing and mastering coordination (Roncesvalles et al., 2001).


Rhythm has been an essential trait through human history. It is defined as a strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound (Dictionary, 2015). Rhythm is the periodic quality of movement whenever motion is present in a reoccurring theme (Trotter, 1995). Children need to develop Rhythm in order to master coordination as it involves the temporal pattern of movement in daily life.

Spatial Orientation

Spatial orientation defines human’s natural ability to maintain our body orientation in relation to the physical space around us at rest and during motion (Federal Aviation, 2015). Spatial orientation is an innate sense of direction regardless of the environment one is immersed in, without it people would walk in circles continuously (Maxwell, 2013). The ability for an individual to detect their limbs without a visual stimulus is an important factor in being able to coordinate movements. A person will not constantly watch their legs when coordinating the movement of walking or running; they must possess spatial orientation to produce coordinated fluid movements.

Types of Coordination

Main types of coordination are

  1. Hand-Eye Coordination
  2. Bi-lateral Coordination
  3. Bi-Manual Coordination
  4. Fine-motor Coordination

Hand-Eye Coordination

Hands are used to accomplish a task because the visual system is able to relay information from the visual field into smooth coordinated movements, this is known as hand-eye coordination (Children’s Health, 2015). Infants are very curious to touch the things around them, at around six months of age many infants can move smoothly to grab objects, their speed increases and the jerkiness of the movement dissipates as they age and gain more experience (Children’s Heath, 2015). Hand-eye coordination is developed at a very young age, by eight months a pincer grasp is learnt and infants can easily follow their hand movements with their eyes (Children’s Health, 2015). Later hand-eye coordination is a key factor in many sports such as baseball, tennis, badminton and basketball.

Bi-Lateral Coordination

Bilateral coordination is the ability to coordinate and use both sides of the body (Child’s Play, 2015). Bilateral coordination is a good indicator that both sides of the brain are working properly. An example of bilateral coordination is when a child catch’s a ball or running, engaging both legs to work together. Children with poor bilateral coordination will also struggle with gross motor skills such as jumping, catching, or beating a drum to a rhythm (Bilateral Info and Activities for Kids, 2015).

Bi-Manual Coordination

Bi-manual coordination is a person’s ability to engage both arms in a bimanual action, specifically referring to the movement of both hands (Bobbio, 2015). Children must learn to engage both hands either for the same task or for different tasks. A small list of exercises that aids in the development of bi-manual coordination are: tapping fingers to a beat, picking up a penny with each hand and placing it in a box, and playing the piano.

Fine Motor Coordination

Fine Motor Coordination involves manipulating the small muscles of the body to perform specific tasks (Fine-motor coordination, 2015). Early indications of fine motor control tend to revolve around the reflex grasp, a reaction that becomes refined with experience and age (Fine-Motor Coordination, 2015). Visual information plays an important role in fine-motor coordination because feedback from visual stimulus aids in refinement of early-guided hand responses (Fine-Motor Coordination, 2015). Fine motor coordination involves tasks such as writing, sewing, and picking up small items.

Disorders Associated with Coordination Development

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

DCD is a common health condition present in young children. DCD is present when there is a delay in coordination development, inhibiting children from completing everyday tasks (Missiuna, Rivard & Pollock, 2011). There is little information as to why DCD is present in children or what its cause is. These children have great difficulty learning new motor skills, to overcome this, occupational and physical therapists help these children come up with strategies to achieve tasks at home. Children who have DCD show difficulty with a variety of tasks, no two children are often alike. Some children show difficulty with gross motor tasks while others have problems with very specific activities (Missiuna, Rivard & Pollock, 2011). These children will be able to acquire skills with practice but development of new motor skills will always be a problem.


Dyspraxia is a term often related to Developmental Coordination Disorder but it has its differences. Along with all of the ailments of DCD, individuals with dyspraxia have problems with planning, organizing and carrying out movements in order to achieve a task (FAQ’s, 2013). Dyspraxia may also affect a person’s speech and articulation (FAQ’s, 2013). Again the cause of dyspraxia is unknown but it is thought that there is a disruption in the brain so neuron transmissions are interrupted and poorly executed (FAQ’s, 2013).

Practical Applications

As a parent or an instructor it is important to introduce coordination into children’s lives at an early age through various exercises. Coordination is a precursor to the child’s future skill level in sports, academic performance and attitude towards school; therefore it is an important element in a child’s development (Ireland, 2013). Infants begin exploring coordination at a very young age when they attempt to crawl and coordinate the movement of their legs with their arms. Although most parents and teachers focus on developing gross motor skills, coordination still needs special attention in a child’s early years. Parents can introduce mirroring exercises; have the child mimic your hand movement or body movement; attempt to have them walk in a straight line, coordinating their limbs to follow a set path while maintaining balance is a good exercise to begin with (Ireland, 2013). Activities that require a child to use all of their body parts at the same time are key to developing coordination. An example of an exercise for a children is to try begins by having them keep one balloon in the air, slowly add a balloon so they have to keep two then three balloons in the air at the same time (Active Start, 2015).

Coordination is a skill that is used for an individual’s entire life and one that is constantly evolving and developing. Coaches and parents need to recognize that children develop at different rates and depending on the child’s developmental stage, coordination may be particularly difficult (Grasso, 2011). When children are experiencing puberty they have to re-learn movements, which can disrupt coordination development (Grasso, 2011). Encouragement and reinforcement helps to ensure your child has a positive experience with coordination development and increases their likelihood to continue exercises to improve upon it. Early childhood is considered to be a landmark for development; specifically development of motor skills, coordination is no exception (Bobbio, 2015).


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