Physical development in middle childhood

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It is imperative for today’s teachers to be well versed in children’s health and acknowledge that just over twenty one percent of five to eleven year old children in Australia are either overweight or obese (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). In addition to this, the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found children did not adhere to recommended Australian nutritional guidelines (Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation, 2008). Due to the large portion of time children spend at school it is paramount for teachers to play an active role in educating and helping children combat these statistics and implement healthy lifestyles. Following is a discussion on the physical development of children in middle childhood focusing on development of fundamental motor skills (FMS) and how these skills can aid in increasing a child’s level of physical activity. The discussion is supplemented with strategies to integrate incidence of physical activity in the classroom to promote healthy life long habits.

Middle childhood, as defined by McDevitt and Ormrod (2010, p. 161) as being “six to ten year olds”, is a time where children’s growth rates slow down while motor skills continue to improve with practice (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). In this age group children will be strengthening their FMS and expanding on their motor ability. A strong base in FMS increases future opportunities to engage in physical activity, a notion agreed upon by Stodden and Goodway (2007) and Branta (2010). In this age group children refine their motor skills and begin to utilise them purposefully (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). Gross motor skills such as running and catching increase in speed and coordination, while fi...

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