Welcome to Lesson 4! With the completion of this lesson you will be halfway done with this course! Now that you have refreshed your knowledge of the fundamentals of child development and learned how movement and music enhance the development of children in all domains, we are now ready to move on to the movement program. As you read, see if you can summarize the relationship of movement and music, select movement lessons that are developmentally appropriate, examine community and family involvement in culturally sensitive movement and music activities, model the content of developmentally appropriate movement activities, and choose movement lessons that develop fine motor skills.
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has created standards for children grades K-12. However, in this lesson we will focus on standards that are relevant to the development of students in grades pre-K through third. Within these standards the International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport, and Dance has created benchmarks that can be used for students in grades 3 or higher. Fortunately, these benchmarks can be modified for our youngest learners, which enable the student, the parents, and the teacher to track an individual’s progress. While there are many associations that have a hand in developing standards, guidelines, and benchmarks, the overall goal is the same: each student to have daily movement experiences that are fit for each child’s individual needs.
As you read through this lesson, you will want to pay extra close attention to the sub categories that make up essential movement concepts. The reason for this is that each individual movement concept is a building block to a future skill. Among these listed below are the sub categories for movement concepts.
- Body awareness
- Space awareness
- Movement quality
- Relationship awareness
It would be very difficult to teach a child a movement lesson if the child is not aware of his or her body parts. Could you imagine teaching a child how to kick a ball if he or she cannot identify his or her foot? Therefore, it is imperative that teachers begin with the basics of body awareness when teaching early childhood students. As a teacher, you will want to create lessons and activities that make learning the body engaging. Some texts suggest several different songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” as well as games like “Move Around My Body, Squirrel,” that encourage students to learn this essential concept (Gallagher & Sayre, 2015).
From here, you will want to teach students about space awareness. Defining space for a child is a very difficult concept for children to grasp because it is so abstract. As well, young students have little control of how his or her body moves (picture little kids running with arms and legs flying in all directions). When discussing space with young students you will want to discuss self-space. One way I like to teach about self-space is having students move apart with the arms spread out wide and legs apart. When they have done this I will ask, “Are you touching any other person? Do you have enough space to move around comfortably?” Space awareness also includes directions, levels, and pathways. This includes how the body moves in different directions, with different heights, and with different movements. As children become comfortable with space and movement, it is time to develop the fine motor skills.
The development of fine motor skills is not only important in physical education but in all curriculums. Fine motor skills, such as grasping, helps a child learn how to hold a pencil correctly. Eye-hand coordination allows for the pencil to make contact with the paper and for writing to begin. Bimanual control allows scissors to be held and used properly. As you can see, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order for students to develop these skills. However, this work should not be the job of the teacher alone, and including the community and the student’s parents is imperative! Not only will this create a partnership between you and the parent, but it will also give you time to learn more about your students, his or her culture, and prior experiences that have created the child you are teaching.
Parent involvement is an important aspect of a movement and music program and authors may focus heavily on this topic. When parents were asked, “What do you hope to accomplish from this program?” their answers were similar—they wanted the child to have fun and develop social skills. Parents with children participating in a music program also hoped their child would develop a sense of musical appreciation. On the other hand, parents with children involved in a movement program hoped their child’s coordination would improve.
Many parents realize the importance of music and movement in their child’s life. Since parents are a child’s first teachers, it is important to include them in the program, especially at the toddler stage. Not only do toddlers try to gain adult approval, but they also need a security base as identified by Alicia Lieberman in The Emotional Life of a Toddler. When toddlers feel the security of a caregiver, they feel the strength and reassurance to become risk-takers and set out to explore the world around them. Once the toddler becomes unsure about a situation or becomes scared, they will go back to “home base” to recharge (so to say) before setting out again on a new adventure.
Not only do caregivers provide security for the child, but they also facilitate, model, encourage, praise, and act as scaffold support for the child. The only role the caregivers and teachers do not share is that of an expert. The teacher passes on the content knowledge to the caregivers and children to practice not only during the program but also at home as well.
Wow! A lot of information is contained within this lesson, but remember, you already have learned about child development, standards, curriculum design, creative expression and play in prior lessons. That knowledge will get you over halfway through this lesson and will be directly applied in Lessons 5 and 6! Remember, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. So, let’s start chomping!
Gallagher, J., & Sayre, N.E. (2015). Movement and Music: Developing Activities for Young Children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
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