Course:KIN366/ConceptLibrary/Effort Awareness

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Movement Experiences for Young Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon Bredin
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Effort Awareness is the ability to develop a conscious recognition of one's body movements while performing various physical activities (Carson, 2001). There are three components that are required within Effort Awareness: Time, Force, and Control. Degrees of speed, muscular effort, and management of a movement are required for children to achieve Effort Awareness. Practical Applications for practitioners working with children, such as physical education teachers, coaches, and sport camp instructors, require using developmentally appropriate games and language for young children to gain optimal success and understanding of Effort Awareness.


Effort Awareness is one of the three Movement Concepts that determines how one’s body moves (Davidson, 2013). Along with Spatial Awareness and Relational Awareness, Effort Awareness is considered the ability for a child to develop a conscious understanding of their body’s movements during physical activities (Carson, 2001). According to Carson (2001), children should be exposed to Effort Awareness through organized play as young as the preschool levels (ages 4 and 5), which requires early childhood educators to have a vast understanding of the Fundamental Movement Skills, as well as the Movement Concepts.


According to Carson (2001), Effort Awareness refers to the muscular effort required to “produce, sustain, stop and regulate a movement”. In order to achieve this, Time, Force, and Control, or the components of Effort Awareness, must occur in every movement for a child to fully comprehend their own muscular effort when performing a movement. Therefore it is imperative that these “young movers” are exposed to organized play, with physical educators that have a strong background in activities that incorporate Effort Awareness (Graham et al., 2013).


The component of time within Effort Awareness is determined by the speed of a movement: degrees of fast/slow, as well as the length of the movement in time: sudden/sustained (Graham et al., 2013). Within the component of time, each movement is also created with a rhythm (Carson, 2001). Similar to a dancer moving to a musical beat, a young mover jogging will be jogging to a certain patterned rhythm. For a child to understand the component of time, physical activities that are accompanied with song or chant can enforce a conscious understanding of Effort Awareness (Carson, 2001).


The component of force within Effort Awareness is determined by the degrees of muscular effort to produce a movement, along the spectrum of strong and light force (Graham et al., 2013). Young movers need to develop the understanding of utilizing large muscle groups such as the quadriceps (i.e. sharp change of direction), in order to initiate a strong force of a movement, or fine motor muscles such as the forearm muscles to initiate a lighter degree of force (i.e. wrist flicks). Learning to absorb force is also imperative in a child’s understanding of Effort Awareness (Carson, 2001). Activities such as catching a ball, or stopping an oncoming ball with one’s foot, need to be taught by knowledgeable practitioners such as certified sport coaches. Movements that include stopping one’s own bodily forces after a quick sprint for instance, need to be learned to avoid injuries as well.


Control, or flow is the last component of Effort Awareness. This component refers to the management of a movement, with degrees of bound and free movements (Graham et al., 2013). A young mover’s control can vary between jerky movements, to smooth movements where there is a sense of coordination and control of their own limbs (Carson, 2001). A necessity of this component for young movers is the ability to learn to transition between one movement to another (Carson, 2001). Practitioners will find that young movers are typically able to perform isolated movements fairly well, but when combined with many movements at one time, a lack of quality in their movement is evident (Carson, 2001).

Practical Applications

The practical applications of Effort Awareness for practitioners include the use of various movement activities that cover all three components of Effort Awareness: Time, Force, and Control. Practitioners should use various musical beats, or ask children to form their own bodily beats while performing a movement or activity. Activities such as playing tag with music, and having to change the type of movement when the musical beat becomes faster or slower, can help children become more aware of the component of Time within Effort Awareness (Carson, 2001).

For the component of force, activities where children are asked to “tell my body to” perform a certain movement within the spectrum of strong and light force, can teach children to utilize their muscles to perform strong and light forces (Carson, 2001). For instance, ballistic activities where children are kicking or striking a ball can have a target at varied distances so that they required to use the spectrum of force to aim at the target (Carson, 2001). Learning to absorb force is also necessary for young movers. Activities such as catching a ball, or stopping a ball with their foot requires the practitioner to teach the proper techniques with the use of developmentally appropriate equipment for the child to have optimal challenge.

Activities to initial Control or Flow include various movement skills that require a transition from one movement to another (Carson, 2001). For instance children bouncing or dribbling a ball can be asked to stop at a certain point, and take small pivot steps to control their movement. A jerky or lack of flow within their movement can indicate their lack of coordination and control. Overall, practitioners should use the three components of Effort Awareness (Time, Force, and Control), whenever they build a lesson plan for young movers in a physically active setting.


< / Carson, L. (2001). The “I am learning curriculum” developing a movement awareness in young children. Teaching Elementary Physical Education. >

< / Davidson, J. (2013). What are the benefits of fundamental movement skills? >

< / Graham, G., Holt, S., & Parker, M. (2013). Children Moving: A Reflective Approach to Teaching Physical Education with Movement Analysis Wheel. Chapter 3. pp. 27-39. >