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What are Perceptual Motor Skills?


You may have heard teachers at your child’s school talking about Perceptual Motor Skills. Or the school may offer a program in developing children’s Perceptual Motor Skills. But, what are these skills exactly? And why are they are so important to your child’s learning development?


Put simply, Perceptual Motor Skills are the movement related skills vital to children’s development, learning and growth. Perceptual Motor Skills refers to a child’s growing ability to interact with their environment by combining use of their senses and motor skills.


Perceptual Motor Skills can be broken down and explained in two parts. Perception refers to the children’s use of their senses to gather and understand information and respond to the world around them. Young children use perceptual information to develop their awareness of their bodies in spaces and to perform movement tasks, such as kicking a ball.



Motor skills refers to the ability to control the body’s movements. Gross motor skills include movement of the whole body, through the arms and the legs. Pre-schoolers develop their gross motor skills through engaging in social play, climbing trees, jumping on trampolines, riding bikes etc. Fine motor skills are developed through the use of the smaller muscles in certain body parts, like the hands and the feet. Children use fine motor skills to grasp and hold small objects when they are drinking from cups, using scissors and painting with brushes. Children practice both fine and gross motor skills in their everyday routines, such as using a fork to eat with, brushing teeth, and putting on their clothes.


Therefore, Perceptual Motor Skills include hand-eye coordination, body-eye coordination, auditory language skills and visual-auditory skills. Children practice perceptual motor skills every day through active play, object manipulation, playing with blocks, balls, and drawing for instance.



Many children are relatively underprepared for the formal education setting of the classroom. Sitting still, listening to instructions, holding pencils, unpacking school bags, are all challenges for young children starting school. Developing perceptual motor skills in school age children through relevant programs can help bridge the gap between playing and the more structured aspects of school. Teachers around the world are becoming more and more aware that a child’s inability to sit still and listen may be due to the need for development of certain perceptual motor skills.


Children that suffer from ADHD and dyspraxia can greatly benefit from teaching intervention that develop these skills. Therefore, many schools are now offering programs that develop children’s Perceptual Motor Skills. Developing these skills are the key to setting children up for their best learning success at school.



References: Information sourced from the  Office of Head Start – Office of the Administration for Children & Families.






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