Students’ fundamental motor skills are already developing when they begin pre-school, but are not yet perfectly coordinated. Five-year-olds generally can walk satisfactorily for most school-related purposes. For some five year olds, running still looks a bit like a hurried walk, but usually it becomes more coordinated within a year or two.
Similarly with jumping, throwing, and catching: most children can do these things, though often clumsily, by the time they start school, but improve their skills noticeably during the early elementary years (Payne & Isaacs, 2005).
Assisting such developments is usually the job either of physical education teachers, where they exist, or else of classroom teachers during designated physical education activities. Whoever is responsible, it is important to notice if a child does not keep more-or-less to the usual developmental timetable, and to arrange for special assessment or supports if appropriate.
Even if physical skills are not a special focus of a classroom teacher, they can be quite important to students themselves. Whatever their grade level, students who are clumsy are aware of that fact and how it could potentially negatively affect respect from their peers. In the long term, self-consciousness and poor self-esteem can develop for a child who is clumsy, especially if peers (or teachers and parents) place high value on success in athletics.
One research study found what teachers and coaches sometimes suspect: That loser in athletic competitions tend to become less sociable and are more apt to miss subsequent athletic practices than winners (Petlichkoff, 1996).
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