Motor Remedial Teaching to help with motor skill development in Early Years
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Motor Remedial Teaching to help with motor skill development in Early Years

PHE teacher Yasmin Bakker recently started a pilot Motor Remedial Teaching (MRT) project in Early Years. She teaches 45-minute MRT sessions once a week, to small groups of 6 to 8 students to allow for individual attention and assistance.

By Yasmin Bakker, Physical and Health Education (PHE) teacher

Eventually, the aim is to run MRT for all grade levels throughout the Primary Years Program as a part of the student support at the ISUtrecht. We have a great student support team that does a great job identifying and removing barriers to learning in order to educate children with a wide range of learning abilities. They provide extra support, or “remedial teaching”, for struggling learners and help them catch up with their peers. However, a delay or difficulty in development of motor skills can sometimes be overlooked. Even though age-appropriate development of gross motor skills is essential for the overall development of children and has a huge impact on their well-being.

Building confidence

The PHE team noticed that a number of students struggle with motor skills and are not at the expected performance level for their age. For some children this is due to a delay in motor skill development, whereas others have a significant lack of confidence during physical activity. This can be very frustrating for children during PHE classes and outside play. Motor Remedial Teaching (MRT) offers additional support for these students, giving them extra time to improve their motor skills, specifically skills that can be applied during regular PHE lessons and outside play. Thus, encouraging active participation and building confidence during physical activity.

Basic gross motor skills

During our sessions we always work with five or six stations practicing the following basic gross motor skills:

  • Balancing
  • Climbing & Rotation
  • Jumping & Landing
  • Throwing, Catching & Aiming
  • Reactive ability

Just like during regular PHE lessons, we learn through play, fun games and exercises. When learning a new skill repetition is key, however, to keep it interesting and challenging, I make sure students do different exercises to practice the same basic skills. For example, balancing on a bench with obstacles, on a low beam while moving bean bags or on a slackline. During MRT we work to remediate areas of weakness but also focus on students’ strengths. Even in the early years, we evaluate our learning and set goals for ourselves (see picture). This empowers students, which enables them to overcome their struggles.

‘Now they don’t have to wait for me’

One of my students, who had been struggling for weeks to do a front roll (or “roly poly” as we like to call them), set the goal for himself that he was going to practice at home. Last week, he showed me he could now do a roly poly all by himself. He was so proud that he continued to show his classmates during PHE! Another student overcame her fear of climbing in the jungle gym and sliding from the high slide. She told me “now they don’t have to wait for me!”, referring to her classmates having to wait for her when she used to get stuck in the jungle gym. I am immensely proud of these MRT students and hope they will continue to becoming more and more confident during physical activity in the future.