The Learning Process
 
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Developing Physical Coordination
 
Defining Coordination as the ability to effortlessly move the body and all of its parts in harmony
       It is very hard to define coordination or to measure it. Most individuals can recognize when coordination is lacking or present in abundance. The problem is in how to measured coordination using a standardized scale that allows comparison with other individuals.

       The mind and body are connected on couscous and subconscious levels. Certain physical coordination and occupational therapy support learning
activities, such as reading and comprehension. Neuro scientists and researchers stress the importance of physical coordination activities in schools and how they help the brain improve reading and comprehension skills.

       For example, the same cooperation between the two brain hemispheres. We start reading a line of text on the left side of the page (right brain is in control) and upon reaching the midline, the control must transition to the left side of the brain to allow reading to continue to the end of the line on the right side of the page. Unless the processes is coordinated, the brain will lose its place when the eye transfers its focus back to the left side to read the next line.

       Children with left or right unilateral neglect
experience difficulty with visual body line bisection tasks, including reading problems. This control is related to the vestibular system, and seems to be more difficult for boys. "The male vestibular systems mature slowly,” explains Dr. Mengert, neuro cognitive learning specialist and brain researcher. “Boys have more problems with running, skipping, hopping, and jumping than do girls of a similar age.” The link between physical coordination and reading is real, and most girls are ready to read before their male counterparts.



Right and Left Hemispheric Dominance.
        The left side of the brain is considered the seat of language and processes information in a logical and sequential order. The right side is more visual and processes information in an intuitive, holistic, and random manner. Most people seem to have a dominant side.


       The right and left hemispheres of the brain must work together to accomplish specific tasks such as walking. The right
hemisphere controls the left foot and the left hemisphere controls the right foot. Walking builds the connections between the two hemispheres across the corpus collosum as balance is transferred from on foot to the other.



       The characteristics commonly attributed to the left and right side of the brain serve as a guide of how we can learning things more efficiently and ways of reinforcing learning. The is debate as to which is more important - to determine if memory is stored in many parts of the brain or the exact lobe. Each person's genetic composition determines if we are right brain or left brain dominant, and usually are more comfortable with the learning strategies characteristics of one over the other. There are strategies for learning how to use and develop both sides of the brain. There is research designed to assess if the side we prefer to use for learning probably has more neural connections and could cause learning to occur faster.


        Some tasks must be performed in a linear or straight manner, without deviation, to be accomplished. Other tasks can be accomplished through the use of a multi-branching decision process that allows for more than one solution to achieve the objective. A learner can make poor or bad decisions when confronted with choices, the job of the trainer is to develop the "instincts" associated with making the best choice of those that are available. The multi-branching decision process adds greatly to the complexity of training someone how to develop a plan to assist the learner in the decision process and hopefully reduce  or avoid trial and error situations.

        There is a recognized condition known as Developmental Coordination Disorder.  This condition has been described as - clumsy child syndrome, clumsiness, developmental disorder of motor function, and congenital maladroitness. Parents usually begin to be concerned when their child fails to reach normal developmental milestones as walking or beginning to dress him- or herself.

         Children with the disorder generally have difficulty performing tasks that involve both large and small muscles that are involved in cursive writing, throwing or catching balls, or buttoning buttons. These children can develop normally in all other ways. However, their inability to perform these common tasks, generally lead to social difficulties associated with being accepted in their peer groups.

         Because of their coordination problems, they usually avoid participating in activities on the playground and gym classes. This behavior can lead to conflicts with peer groups. Children who have problems forming cursive letters, or drawing pictures, previously became discouraged and give up academic or artistic pursuits even though they have normal intelligence. The development of computer technology now provides a tool that these individuals can use to express themselves.


        There are different subtypes of developmental coordination disorder. While it is hard to define these different subtypes, they can provide a useful framework for the categorization of symptoms. There are six general groups of symptoms. These include:
  • General unsteadiness and slight shaking
  • An at-rest muscle tone that is below normal
  • Muscle tone that is consistently above normal
  • Inability to move smoothly because of problems putting together the subunits of the whole movement
  • Inability to produce written symbols
       The learner who has difficulty performing tasks usually has difficulty with their hand-eye coordination that adds to their difficulties in tasks that require fine motor skills.  Such visual perception problems normally are related to development of the eye muscles, but there may be other causes. <>       

       It is possible for an individual to have one or more of these types of motor difficulties.  There are no known causes of the disorder. Various theories about its possible causes exist. Some attribute the disorder to biological causes including such prenatal complications. While low birth weight or being born  premature are mentioned as possible causes, there is no research that support these statements.

Developmental Coordination Disorder
       Developmental coordination disorder usually becomes apparent when children fail to meet normal developmental milestones. Some children with developmental coordination disorder do not learn large motor skills such as walking, running, and climbing until a much later point in time than their peers. Others have problems with such small muscle skills as learning to fasten buttons, close or open zippers, or tie shoes. Some children have problems learning how to handle silverware properly. In others, the disorder does not appear until they are expected to learn how to write in school. Some children just look clumsy and often walk into objects or drop things.

       It has been estimated that as many as 6% of children between the ages of five and 11 have developmental coordination disorder. It is thought that while male and female children are thought to be likely to have this disorder, male children are be more likely to be diagnosed.

       There are antidotial comments that developmental coordination disorder and speech language disorders linked, but no definitive research exists to support a relationship. It also seems that children with one disorder are more likely to have another. 

       There are different types of motor impairment that lead to a diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder. Unfortunately some are somewhat vague and as the disorder may present different symptoms in different children, the disorder frequently is misdiagnosed.

        Children who have developmental coordination disorder often have problems playing with their peers because of an inability to perform the physical movements involved in many games and sports. Unpopularity with peers or exclusion from their activities can lead to low self-esteem and poor self-image. Children may go to great lengths to avoid physical education classes and similar situations in which their motor coordination deficiencies might be noticeable. Treatments that focus on skills that are useful on the playground or in the gymnasium can help to alleviate or prevent these problems.


       If a child frequent injuries falls and experiences other accidents, don't be quick to assume it is his or her clumsiness
. Arrange a medical examination with your family physician and discuss the need for a consultation with a learning specialist or child psychiatrist.

      There is a difference between a child who has developmental coordination disorder and one who is simply clumsy and awkward and will out grow the problem. Check with a pediatrician to see if there are physical reasons for a child's clumsiness. The negative effects will manifest in the child's performance in school, activities at play, or other activities that are part of the day's activities at school.

      Physical training can be recommended to treat the disorder. A specialized training plan should be individualized for each child. It is especially desirable to focus on skills that are useful on the playground or in the gymnasium to help alleviate some the social problems typically students who have this problem experience in schools.

Coordination Exercises

One of the keys to success in any sport is coordination.  While some children are naturally
more coordinated than others, there are several things that can be done to help a young
athlete continue to progress in this area of development.

Brian Grasso suggests the following 12 exercises to help young athletes
improve their coordination skills.

  1. Multi-directional forms of running, jumping and skipping

  2. Single leg balancing games

  3. Mirror games (mirroring each other’s movements)

  4. Known exercises starting or finishing in new positions (start sprints from belly or one knee; end with hands up or on all fours)

  5. Opposite arm circles (right hand circles forward, left backwards)

  6. Simultaneous arm and leg circles

  7. Jump in place with 180 or 360 turns while in flight

  8. Balance exercises on a low balance beam

  9. Cross step-over running or carioca

  10. Somersault to balance (somersault to standing one legged balance)

  11. Skipping A, B and C’s

  12. Obstacle running (place hurdles directly on floor and have athlete run over them)

Editor’s Note: Brian Grasso was a resource for this article.

Recommended Reading:

Hemisperic Domminance Inventory Test

Left/Right Processing In general the left and right hemispheres of your brain process information in different ways. We tend to process information using our dominant side.

Brain Hemispheres The brain is divided into two hemispheres, called the left and right hemispheres. Each hemisphere provides a different set of functions, behaviors, and controls.

References:

Off-Ice Training

Sports Information

PDF Clumsy Child Syndrome/ Academic Difficulties  Experts link poor motor control to poor performance in ... Balanced body movements indicate balanced brain connections. .... Right Arm Reaching Across Midline.

Crossing The Midline –Information For Parents   Find out why crossing the midline is so important for your child! ... means that one hand spontaneously moves over to the other side of the body to work there. ... strong hand that becomes specialised at doing the job of controlling the pencil.

BrainConnection.com - The Anatomy of Movement The role of the primary motor cortex is to generate neural impulses that control the execution of movement. Signals from M1 cross the bodys midline to activate skeletal muscles on the opposite side of the body

Development of Childhood Gross Motor Skills - School Sparks The “midline” is the imaginary line down the center of your body from the top of your head.  First, a child must use one hand to control the pencil and the other hand to Bilateral integration is a fancy term that refers to the ability to smoothly perform actions using both sides of the body simultaneously. Successful gross motor movements are a result of bilateral integration.

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
         
  
   
Sports Training

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