|The end of Psychomotor Development, Spring 2007.
|Movement and the Changing Senses
When a child is first born, he/she can perceive sights, sounds, textures, smells, and
tastes, but their abilities to experience these sensations are not as fully developed
as older infant's or children's. Newborns' sense of taste and smell are more
developed after birth than their senses of vision and hearing are.
Because the womb is a dark place, fetuses have little exposure to visual information
before birth. But what does a baby actually see at birth? The optic nerve and parts
of the brain that process visual information are not fully developed at birth. Visual
acuity in a newborn is very poor: what they see at 20 feet is what an adult can see at
300 to 800 feet. Visual acuity improves rapidly within the first 6 months, but it does
not reach adult levels until 4 to 6 years of age.
With more than 30 distinct visual areas in the brain (including color, movement, hue,
and depth), the growing infant must get a variety of stimulating input, including plenty
of practice handling objects and learning their shapes, weight, and movement.
Children need a flood of information, a banquet, a feast.
|Aesthetic Experiences and Psychomotor Development
(from Creative Activities for Young Children by Mary Mayesky, pages 36 -- 41)
An aesthetic sense does not mean "I see" or "i hear," it means "I enjoy what I see" and "I enjoy what I hear." It means
that the child is using taste or preference. Aesthetic sensitivity is important for children because it improves the
quality of learning and encourages the creative process. Aesthetic sensibility in children has many other benefits, too:
~Children are more sensitive to problems because they have more insight into their world. This means they can be
more helpful to other children and to adults.
~Children are more likely to be self-learners because they are more sensitive to gaps in their knowledge.
~Life is more exciting for children because they have the capacity to be puzzled and to be surprised.
~Children are more tolerant because they learn that there are many possible ways of doing things.
~Children are more independent because they are more open to their thoughts. They are good questioners for the
~Children can deal better with complexity because they do not expect to find one best answer.
Aesthetic experiences for young children can take many forms. They can involve an appreciation of the beauty of
nature, the rhythm and imagery of music or poetry, or the qualities of works of art.
ART -- Most children have plenty of exposure to cartoon characters, advertising art, and stereotyped, simplistic
posters. These do not foster aesthetic development and are sometimes even demeaning to children!
The foundations for art history need to be laid early. Get beautiful old objects into children's hands so they can
'experience' beauty ... Learning art history starts at home. Browsing through family treasures, minding family history,
and sharing these treasures in class ... " (Szekely)
COLORS can be called by name or by HUE.
RED Scarlet; brick red; crimson; dark red; salmon; pink; fuchsia; hot pink; Indian red; coral; maroon; misty rose;
tomato; melon; mulberry; mauve; cotton candy; rubine red; strawberry
BLUE Turquoise; cornflower; icy blue; azure; aqua; aquamarine; cadet blue; cyan; royal blue; navy blue; midnight
blue; periwinkle; Prussian blue; sepia; cerulean; denim
GREEN Sea green; forest; chartreuse; olive green; honeydew; lawn green; lime; teal; asparagus; shamrock
PURPLE Magenta; plum; lavender; orchid; indigo; violet red; thistle; wisteria; eggplant; mulberry
BLACK Ebony; slate; silver; gray; cadet gray
WHITE Snow white; ecru; bisque; cornsilk; floral white; ghost white; ivory; khaki; linen; mint cream; old lace; sea
YELLOW ... Sun yellow; goldenrod; gold; lemon chiffon; maize; copper; lemon; brass; banana; canary
BROWN Burly wood; chocolate; umber; Peru; coffee bean; rosy brown; saddle brown; sienna; tan; flesh;
ORANGE fire orange; pumpkin; red-orange; peach; apricot; tangerine; bittersweet
Talk about LINES in artwork: zig-zags, stripes, heavy, thin, short, long, strokes, separated, parallel, crossed,
Talk about SHAPES and FORMS: geometric shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) or irregular shapes. Two- or
three-dimensional. Filled or empty, size, name, solidity, relationship, open or closed ...
Talk about SPACE: filled, crowded, sparse, empty, freedom, enclosure, balance, boundaries, inclusion, exclusion,
location, solid, permeable, feeling ...
Talk about DESIGN: elements which are repeated or varied; the way colors, lines, shapes, and forms are placed to
give the visual effect of the work; symmetry; balance; repetition; alteration; asymmetry; variation ...
WAYS TO FOSTER CREATIVITY IN CHILDREN:
The important adults in a child's life have tremendous influence over his/her attitudes. Here are examples of
appropriate and inappropriate responses to foster creativity:
INSTEAD OF SAYING: TRY SAYING:
"There's no such thing as a blue "I see you made your horse
horse." (limiting what is possible blue!" (validates their choice)
dampens child's ideas)
"I'll show you how to do it." "You try it, I'm sure you can
(focuses on the "right" way and do it!"
"That's not what pots and pans "You've made some musical
are for." (limiting possible uses instruments out of the pots
for material makes children feel and pans!" (congratulations
new ideas aren't acceptable) on the discovery are in order)
"What is this a picture of?" "You used a lot of [green] in
(focuses on the product rather your painting." (Describes and
than the process.) encourages without moralizing)
1. Why do you think that aesthetic experiences
are important for a child's psychomotor
2. Do you agree with the benefits to children
listed in the gold box?
3. How can you design a classroom that
exposes your preschoolers to aesthetically
pleasing artwork? What kinds of artwork would
you use? Don't you think that you would
include artwork that would be aesthetically
pleasing to you, but might NOT be pleasing to
the children? What can you do to offer variety?
4. Does artwork that is aesthetically pleasing
have to be famous works by famous masters?
What else can bring to a child an appreciation
5. That was a lot of fun coming up with those
hues instead of just boring color names. Invent
at least 2 more names for each basic color
6. This particular textbook suggests these
things to make your classroom more
brightly colored markers
prisms, light catchers
wallpaper sample books
music in the classroom
Can you think of others?
7. Here is a list of museum websites. Go to a few
of them and report their value for use in a
Virginia Discovery Museum
Hands On Children's Museum
Children's Programs and Interactive Gallery
from the California Museum of Photography
Canadian Children's Museum
Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
Kohl Children's Museum
Children's Museum of Manhattan
Brooklyn Children's Museum
|AND WE WILL END WITH THE EMOTIONS; WE STARTED WITH THEM ... (from the book
"Teaching with the Brain in Mind" by Eric Jensen) ... so, THE BRAIN and psychomotor
The adult human brain weighs about 3 pounds. A sperm whale has a brain that weighs 17 pounds and the
gorilla's brain is about 1 pound. A dog's brain weighs only a few ounces. Humans have large brains relative to
body weight. The brain is mostly water (78%), fat (10%), and protein (8%). A living brain is so soft it can be cut
with a butter knife. From the outside the brain's most distinguishable features are its convolutions, or folds.
These wrinkles are part of the cerebral cortex. The folds allow the cortex to maximize surface area (more cells
per square inch). In fact, if it were laid out, the cortex would be about the size of an unfolded page from a daily
newspaper. The human brain has the largest area of uncommitted cortex (no specific function identified so far)
of any species on earth. This gives humans extraordinary flexibility for learning.
An infant's relationship with its primary caregiver often determines whether a child develops learning problems.
Troubled early relationships cause the child's brain to consume glucose in dealing with stress, glucose that
instead could be used for early cognitive functions. Early exposure to stress or violence also causes the brain to
reorganize itself, increasing receptor sites for alertness chemicals. This increases reactivity and blood pressure,
and the child may become more impulsive and aggressive.
Much of our emotional intelligence is learned in the first year. Children learn how to react in hundreds of simple
cause and effect situations with parents. These situations guide them about being disappointed, pleased,
anxious, sad, fearful, proud, ashamed, delighted, apologetic, etc. (CATHY SAYS THESE ARE CALLED
INTERNAL WORKING MODELS, AN ATTACHMENT TERM)
We now understand that the first 48 months of life are critical to the brain's development. While researchers
have always known that infant development was important, they never knew just HOW important. The
experiences of the first year can completely change the way a person turns out.
Most educators know the value of "crawl time" in developing learning readiness. Yet many babies don't have
sufficient crawl (or floor) time because they are strapped in a car seat (even when they aren't in the car!), or
seated in a walker, or sat in front of a television (I grew up watching TV and I turned out TV).
Considering the tomes of evidence on the impact of early motor stimulation on reading, writing, and attentional
skills, it's no wonder that many children have reading problems. As an example, the inner ear's vestibular area
plays a key role in school readiness. Infants who are given periodic vestibular stimulation by rocking gain weight
faster, develop hearing and vision earlier. Many scholars link the lack of vestibular stimulation to dozens of
learning problems including dyslexia.
The brain can literally grow new connections with environmental stimulation. When environments are enriched,
brains develop thicker cortices, more dendritic branching, more growth spines, and larger cell bodies. This
means that the brain cells communicate better with one another. There are more support cells too.
The brain learns fastest and easiest during the earliest years. It nearly explodes with spectacular growth as it
adapts with stunning precision to the world around it. The outside world is the growing brain's real food. It takes
in the sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and touch and reassembles the input into countless neural connections. As
the brain begins to make sense of the world, it creates a neural farmland.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS ENRICH THE BRAIN THIS WAY?
1. READING AND LANGUAGE (vocabulary, reading to self, being read to, language development, printing,
cursive, sounds, nuances of language ...)
2. MOTOR STIMULATION (exercise, spinning, tumbling, rocking, spinning, pointing, counting, jumping, playing
with balls, sports, planning, figuring, problem solving, eye-hand coordination ...)
3. THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING (math, counting, alphabet, colors, models, discussion, paper and
pencil, artwork, video games, puzzles, word games, hypothetical problems, real-world problems, crossword
puzzles, Sudoku, science experiments, building projects, ...)
4. ARTS (music, art enrichment ...)
5. SURROUNDINGS (inspiration, affirmation, content, safety, comfort, beauty, ...)
AND HOW DO WE USE EMOTION IN OUR CLASSROOM IN A WAY THAT AIDS DEVELOPMENT?
1. ROLE MODEL (model the love of learning -- show enthusiasm, bring something with great excitement to
class, build suspense, smile, tell a true emotional story, show off a new treasure, bring in your pet -- let students
know what excites you)
2. CELEBRATIONS (use acknowledgements, parties, high-fives, food, music, fun, play celebration music, etc.)
3. A CONTROVERSY (this could involve a debate, a dialog, an argument; let children act out a play, theater,
drama, tug of war, ...)
4. PURPOSEFUL USE OF PHYSICAL RITUALS (clapping patterns, chants, movements, a song, arrival
announcement, departure, celebration, a new project. Make the ritual fun and quick and change it often to
prevent boredom. Have a class cheer, etc.)
5. INTROSPECTION (use of journals, sharing, stories, reflections about people, things, issues, disasters in the
news, disabilities, sad things in families, happy things in families, etc.)
Good learning engages feelings. Far from an add-on, emotions are a form of learning. Our emotions are the
genetically refined result of life-times of wisdom. We have learned what to love, when and how to care, whom to
trust, the loss of esteem, the exhilaration of success, the joy of discovery, and the fear of failure. This learning is
just as critical as any other part of education. Many activities have powerful lifelong effects, yet there are few
results to show on a daily scorecard. Emotions encompass one such area. Research supports the value of
engaging appropriate emotions. They are an integral and invaluable part of every child's education.
|1. Go to this link
and read the article. Then answer the following questions:
a. What do you think of the findings?
b. What do you understand is the difference between white matter and gray
matter in the brain?
c. What are your thoughts about brain size differences between males and
d. Do these findings have implications for the enrichment of preschool
environments? In other words, since the brain is galloping along in its merry
development, why are we knocking ourselves out to make an enriched
environment for children of this age? Wouldn't the brain develop regardless of
the stimulation and enrichment of early environments (which include people)?
2. For comparative value, read this article also:
Well? What do you think now? Does this article support the article above? Or
not? Do you think that it is a wise thing to make assumptions about humans
from studies on rats?
3. Finally, go here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020314080425.htm. This study
seems came in the middle of the other two (first, 2007, second, 1997, this one
2002). Now decide what you think. Do you believe that motor development is
dependent on sensory development? Do you think that sensory development
is dependent on stimuli? Talk to me, Goose.
|1. ATTACHMENT. Oh baby. I could go on and on. So
much to say, so much to research, too little time. So
make this one more fun.
Let's look at a few media representations of children
who have grown to become sociopathic or
otherwise mentally unstable. I want you to find a
movie that shows this path. Or a book. A book is fine,
too, but let me know in advance enough to have time
to read it also.
SO choose a movie or a book. I am talking about a
movie or book that will give you the childhood
history of someone who has grown to be a serial
murderer, a person with multiple personalities, or
otherwise sociopathic or psychopathic. (examples
that just jump to mind -- my mind, sure, since it is the
only one I have -- are "Hannibal Rising", "Sling
Blade", "Sybil", "Clockwork Orange" (though it has
been a long time since I have seen that one -- does it
delve into his childhood very much?)
Read this quote from "Without Conscience: The
Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us" by
Robert Hare, 1993
"Psychopaths are social predators who charm,
manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life,
leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered
expectations, and empty wallets."
"Completely lacking in conscience and feelings for
others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they
please, violating social norms and expectations without
the slightest sense of guilt or regret."
"He will choose you, disarm you with his words, and
control you with this presence. He will delight you with
his wit and his plans. He will show you a good time, but
you will always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you,
and he will scare you with his eyes. And when he is
through with you, and he will be through with you, he will
desert you and take with him your innocence and your
pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser,
and for a long time you will wonder what happened and
what you did wrong. And if another of his kind comes
knocking at your door, will you open it?"
THAT kind of person is who I am referring to. I am not
talking about a slasher movie, but a real study about
a real person (or imaginary) that is truly one who is
psychopathic or sociopathic.
OK. Watch it. Or read it.
Talk to me about what you think this person's
childhood had to do with the way the person
behaved as an adult. Do you believe that this
person's misbehavior was directly caused by a
traumatic or neglectful past?
Review and be prepared to share when we gather
together at the end of the semester.