Fundamental Motor Skills

Fundamental motor skills is one of the most essential assessment in the physical education setting that provide a wide base of movement abilities from which more advanced skills can be developed. A child whose fundamental motor skills are not amply developed will not have a foundation upon which to build proficient movement forms. In this paper I will address the importance of fundamental motor skills within physical education program.

The standard says that "physically educated person can apply movement concepts and principles to the development of additional motor skills". (Williams, p. 4, 2003) This implies that the principles of movement obtained when developing fundamental motor skills continue to be useful and demonstrates the critical need for elementary school physical educators to teach the fundamental motor skills. Helping students master these skills in their early years will help ensure that they learn to enjoy and appreciate a lifetime of movement.

Colvin, Markos, and Walker (2003) point out that a physical educator must do more than just provide enjoyable activity for the elementary student. The activity must be purposeful. In order to achieve this at the elementary school level, the physical educator's program must center around mastering fundamental movement skills and learning developmentally appropriate fitness concepts. As Colvin et al. further stress, children are able to master the fundamentals with greater ease during their elementary years than at any other point in their life. If children miss this opportunity to develop motor skill proficiency, they will likely be hampered from enjoying recreational and sport activities later in their life (Williams, 2003).

We have a tendency to assume that by the age of eight or nine years these basic movement patterns will simply be acquired and mastered through the normal developmental process. While it is true that some fundamental motor skills (such as walking) will naturally develop to an acceptable level of proficiency for most children through the development process, the majority of fundamental motor skills must be taught, reinforced, and assessed to ensure that all children have the skills needed for later movement success.

Assessment is a critical aspect of ensuring that children progress through the developmental process effectively. Assessment of fundamental motor skills in the elementary school program is especially important. Children must master these skills before being sent on to more advanced movement in a middle school program. As mentioned before, it is wrong to assume that these skills have been mastered because the physical educator provided movement experiences that involved the fundamental motor skills. The only way to ensure that the skills have been mastered is to assess them. This will also provide the physical educator with crucial information regarding program effectiveness.

If assessment is so critical, why is it not being performed more often? First, the most pressing issue facing most physical educators is that of time constraints. In many states, elementary school physical educators are limited to seeing a student once per week, often for as little as 20 minutes per session. The first order of business in this situation should be to educate school board members on the importance of quality daily physical education in the elementary school curriculum. Of course, curricular changes of that magnitude require extreme time and effort, and are beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, the immediate focus will be to suggest practical solutions that can be implemented when the physical educator faces extreme restrictions on available class time. ...

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