|Movement Experiences for Children|
|Instructor:||Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin|
|Important Course Pages|
Motor competence can be defined as a person’s ability to execute different motor acts, including coordination of fine and gross motor skills that is necessary to manage everyday tasks. Motor competence has seen to be a primary mechanism for promoting the engagement in physical activity and positive health benefits  It can impact simple motor skills in everyday activities to sport specific skills in physical activities.
Movement Assessment Battery for Children
The movement assessment battery for children (MABC) test is used to observe and measure motor competence. It is a standardized qualitative and quantitative test that has 3 categories and each category has multiple tests (# of tests):
- manual dexterity (3)
- ball skills (2)
- static and dynamic balance (3)
The MABC test is very popular and many studies use it to measure the different levels of motor competence in children. These scores are usually compared to other test scores, such as physical fitness to gauge whether or not a child has completely developed their motor skills or if they do enough physical activity.
In addition to a child’s actual motor competence, their perceived motor competence also has an impact on their physical activity levels. Perceived motor competence can affect the self-perception of a child in many different areas, greatly impacting their overall health. Perceptions of competence can be mediated by low self-efficacy, influencing a child’s drive to be physically active. Motor competence has been found to be related to:
- scholastic competence
- social acceptance
- athletic competence
- physical appearance
Some of these areas tend to have an effect on their exercise activity which can also affect their motor competence development. For instance, if a child is self-conscious about their body image and refuses to participate in physical activities, it decreases their opportunities to practice their motor competence.
Generally, children with high motor competence are more involved in a number of diverse physical activities and therefore are able to further develop their motor competence. As a result, they have higher physical fitness scores. On the other hand, children with low motor competence are less likely to participate in physical activities and therefore more susceptible in choosing a more sedentary lifestyle because of their motor problems. The next section will explain some of the issues between the different levels of motor competence in children.
Findings suggest that children with low motor competence perform poorly on physical fitness tests which even start at the age of 5. As these children get older, they are shown to have reduced muscular endurance. Children with low levels of physical activity do not spend enough time practicing motor skills resulting in poor physical fitness and limiting their development for sufficient motor competence. There have been significant differences noted between children with low motor competence and children with high motor competence in the 9-12 year age groups. The main difference being the activity levels of the children. The negative implications of low motor competence children tend to continue into their adolescence and adulthood years. Without any intervention, this group will most likely continue to decrease participation in physical activity and result in poor physical fitness. Without getting the recommended amount of physical activity, the child has a higher chance of developing health problems.
Physical Fitness Tests
The physical fitness test is used to measure the degree and intensity of children’s physical activity over time and consists of 9 items:
- 3 is based on jumping
- 2 on throwing
- 1 on climbing
- 3 on running
When comparing low motor competence children with high motor competence children, it was observed that it was the inefficient movement patterns that contributed to the poor fitness test outcomes. It was the coordination problems that were producing the poor results, not the lack of effort. These results reflected how much physical activity the children were getting based on the assumption that better fitness scores is a result of participating in more physical activities. The frequency of participation in physical activity seemed to explain the relationship between motor competence and physical fitness scores.
One of the possible causes of poor motor competence in children is the psychological component to physical activity and fitness. According to Vedul‐Kjelsås (2012), the global perception of the self is found to be related to motor competence. Being physically active is related to both actual and perceived motor competence. With low motor competence, a child may have lower self-perceptions of their own athletic and scholastic competence which could lead to low physical fitness. As a result, they may perform worse on fitness tests and think they are not as capable as their peers leading to them potentially not putting in much effort or quiting sooner.
Physical fitness is defined as the capacity to perform physical activity. There are 2 components:
- health related fitness
The health related fitness component includes:
- cardiorespiratory fitness
- muscular fitness
- agility tests
Health-related fitness has a strong relationship with motor competence in children 9-10 years old and appears to persist into adolescence. So if a child has low motor competence, without any intervention or help, their poor movement patterns will persist into later years which can essentially lead to a sedentary lifestyle.
Another possible cause for children developing low motor competence is the sociocultural views on what activities are appropriate for girls and boys to participate in. It has been suggested that boys receive more encouragement to participate in activities that include ball skills which can lead to an increase in their performance in these skills. For girls, they are said to have better manual dexterity skills, since they would be more interested in doll play, dressing up, preparing food and social play acting. Whatever skills society is reinforcing on the specific genders, they are more likely to develop in those areas.
Previous studies have shown that early development of motor competence is a key mechanism that helps promote physical activity and essentially can help decrease the risk of child obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Children that show below average motor competence are not getting the recommended physical activity levels needed for the ideal health benefits. In LeGear et al.’s (2012) study, it was found that only 9% of boys and 4% of girls meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity 6 out of the 7 days of the week. In order to measure whether a child is getting enough physical activity, the relationship between motor competence and physical fitness is compared.
As it was mentioned earlier, physical fitness test scores are used to determine how active someone is. In addition to the physical fitness component, the psychological and environmental factors also impact a child’s motor competence development. The findings suggest that children in kindergarten already begin to make self-judgements. There are many factors that come into play that can affect motor competence results. Past studies have found that exposure to a variety of physical activities result in improved overall motor competence in children.
There has been a long history of findings that support the statement that physical activity promotes positive health outcomes and can prevent obesity and many diseases. Results from current studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between motor competence and physical activity. One reason can be due to the fact that children with high motor competence find ways to be active. The more active children are in different settings, the more opportunities they have to develop their motor competence. This can also lead to an increase in perceived motor competence which improves not only their physical health, but also their mental and emotional well-being. Opportunities that help them become and feel physically competent need to occur and be encouraged early in children’s lives, particularly in school settings.
Recommendations for Adults (Parents and Teachers)
According to Harter’s theory of competence motivation, when a child has a positive self-perception and believe they are capable of performing the goal-directed behaviour, they are more likely to repeat the same behavior. For example, if a child is shown how to perform a certain skill and is successfully given positive feedback from their peers and adults, the child will be motivated to repeat this behaviour.
It is suggested for adults to provide a supportive environment where children have opportunities to learn and practice motor skills that encourage competency in performing these skills. Since a child’s perception of their competence is so influential in determining their physical activity levels, instructors or teachers should really focus on this positive reinforcement. Intervention at a young age can produce significant improvements in motor skill proficiency and positively influence perceptions of competence. It is important that this must be approached from a holistic approach and not only the actual execution of the skill in order to foster complete development of motor competence.
It must also be realized that physical activity levels and motor skill competence is shown to be influenced by gender. The school arena has been considered to be important for physical activity which teachers play a large role.
Especially for girls, since masculine activities can be offered in a positive and encouraging way that can help develop motor skills and long term involvement in physical activity. It has been shown that girls profit from motor-skill focus in physical education lessons.
Boys generally tend to have higher performance in endurance and strength, and higher self-perceptions of their own fitness; however, they can still benefit from these positive settings. Overall, it should be noted that girls show greater locomotor proficiency and boys show better object control skills.
As it was mentioned earlier, sociocultural views can have a major impact in shaping a child’s motor competency. Adults and people in a physical education teaching environment must realize what a large impact this has and create settings that encourage the development of all of the motor skills in a neutral gender manner. A better understanding of these relationships may contribute to create suitable conditions for children to participate in physical activities and essentially help them lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Haga, M. (2008). The relationship between physical fitness and motor competence in children. Child: care, health and development, 34(3), 329-334.
- Vedul‐Kjelsås, V., Sigmundsson, H., Stensdotter, A. K., & Haga, M. (2012). The relationship between motor competence, physical fitness and self‐perception in children. Child: care, health and development, 38(3), 394-402.
- Breslin, G., Murphy, M., McKee, D., Delaney, B., & Dempster, M. (2012). The effect of teachers trained in a fundamental movement skills programme on children’s self-perceptions and motor competence. European Physical Education Review, 18(1), 114-126.
- LeGear, M., Greyling, L., Sloan, E., Bell, R.I., Williams, B.L., Naylor, P.J., and Temple, V.A. (2012). A window of opportunity? Motor skills and perceptions of competence of children in Kindergarten. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9.
- Spessato, B.C., Gabbard, C., Valentini, N.C. (2013). The role of Motor Competence and Body Mass Index in Children’s Activity Levels in Physical Education Classes. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 32, 118-130.
- Haga, M. (2009). Physical Fitness in Children With High Motor Competence is Different From That in Children With Low Motor Competence. Physical Therapy Journal, 89, 1089-1097.
- Vedul-Kjelas, V., Stensdotter, A.K. (2013). Motor Competence in 11-Year-Old Boys and Girls. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 57 (5), 561-570.
- Janssen, I. & LeBlanc, A.G. (2010). Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7.
Breslin, G., Murphy, M., McKee, D., Delaney, B., & Dempster, M. (2012). The effect of teachers trained in a fundamental movement skills programme on children’s self-perceptions and motor competence. European Physical Education Review, 18(1), 114-126.
Haga, M. (2008). The relationship between physical fitness and motor competence in children. Child: care, health and development, 34(3), 329-334.
Haga, M. (2009). Physical Fitness in Children With High Motor Competence is Different From That in Children With Low Motor Competence. Physical Therapy Journal, 89, 1089-1097.
Janssen, I. & LeBlanc, A.G. (2010). Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7.
LeGear, M., Greyling, L., Sloan, E., Bell, R.I., Williams, B.L., Naylor, P.J., and Temple, V.A. (2012). A window of opportunity? Motor skills and perceptions of competence of children in Kindergarten. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9.
Spessato, B.C., Gabbard, C., Valentini, N.C. (2013). The role of Motor Competence and Body Mass Index in Children’s Activity Levels in Physical Education Classes. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 32, 118-130.
Vedul‐Kjelsås, V., Sigmundsson, H., Stensdotter, A. K., & Haga, M. (2012). The relationship between motor competence, physical fitness and self‐perception in children. Child: care, health and development, 38(3), 394-402.
Vedul-Kjelas, V., Stensdotter, A.K. (2013). Motor Competence in 11-Year-Old Boys and Girls. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 57 (5), 561-570.