The psychomotor is the discipline that studies the relationship between the psyche and motor capacity of the human being.
Born in the twentieth century by authors such as the neurologist Ernest Dupré and the psychologist Henry Wallon, let’s see what this field of study really consists of and how interventions with the child population take shape. We will also review other concepts related to psychomotor skills, such as the fundamentals of motor development and the definition of what is called “body schema”.
Basic principles of psychomotor skills
The discipline of psychomotor skills is based on theoretical premises on how to understand the different types of development in humans. As for the perspective of psychological development, It is assumed that the subject is in continuous interaction with the environment in which it develops; from the point of view of motor development, it is claimed that there is a relationship between motor and psychological (cognitive, emotional, social) functions of each person; by sensory development, it is understood that there is a link between the senses and the integral maturation of the individual.
Another of the fundamental theoretical principles is based on the recognition that the correct construction of the body diagram promotes the development of psycho-cognitive abilities. Moreover, it is validated that the body is the key aspect of the contact with the external reality, which occurs through the movement of this one.
On the other hand, motor skills are assumed to be an inseparable element of the behavior of the same individual, which interacts with the environment allowing the development of complex skills. Finally, a last fundamental idea would give a decisive role to language in the process of psychic development of each subject.
Determinants of motor development
Motor development is a continuous process that begins from the embryonic stage and does not stop until the individual reaches maturity, adopting very different rhythms for each subject but following the same sequence in all stages. that make it up. One of the first samples that takes place there refers to expression of innate reflexes that slowly disappear to later turn into voluntary and controlled movements of a different nature.
This is possible after the myelination process is done and completed and it is established in the layers of the cerebral cortex (which regulate these voluntary actions), so that each time the movement is refined and perfected in all its coordinated aspects.
Among the factors that determine motor development, three types can be differentiated: prenatal, perinatal and postnatal. Among the former, relevant aspects such as maternal characteristics and habits (age, diet, presence of diseases, hereditary peculiarities, etc.) that can negatively affect the fetus during pregnancy are relevant. At the time of childbirth, complications can occur during the extraction, which can lead to episodes of anoxia or brain damage (perinatal factors).
As for the postnatal factors, they are multiple, even if they are mainly addressed: at the level of physical and neurological maturation, The nature of the stimulation and the experiences to which it is subjected, the type of food, the environment, the types of care and hygiene, the existence of affective behaviors of significant characters, etc. As mentioned above, physical development is very closely related to psychological, emotional, behavioral and social aspects, so the result of the combination of all of them will be decisive for the child.
What do we mean by body diagram?
The concept of body contour is defined as the knowledge that an individual has of their own body, This includes a full awareness of it both at rest and in motion, on the relationship between all the elements that compose it and the link of all this with the space or the context that surrounds it (physical and social). Thus, emotional self-perception (mood or self-attitudes) and the hetero-perception that others have towards a subject are also relevant aspects in the configuration of the body schema.
As equivalent expressions or alternate ways of naming the body diagram, there are also binomials such as body image, body awareness, postural contour, self-image or body self-image. Different authors such as Wallon, Le Boulch, Acaen and Ajuriaguerra or Frostig have made their own contributions to define the concept of body diagram, although unanimously all come together in the idea the bidectional subject-environment influence Consciousness (physical and social) and individual of their own body.
One of the most relevant proposals is that made by Bryan J. Cratty, the classification of the determining components of the body diagram is new and interesting to affect the influence of cognitive aspects in the configuration of this one. So for Cratty, the components of the body diagram would be:
- Knowledge and recognition of body planes.
- Knowledge and recognition of body parts.
- Knowledge and recognition of body movements.
- Knowledge and recognition of laterality.
- Knowledge and recognition of directional movements.
With regard to the development of the body diagram, it is assumed that it is as the child incorporates all the learning that will allow him a greater cognitive-affective-social competence of himself and of himself. The environment when there is a conformation of this body image differs from that of others and of the surrounding context. This is why it is said that in the first years of life it is when the individual personality is structured and that from there, it is possible to become aware of oneself in space and in time in relation to all that is foreign to it.
More precisely, the evolution of the formation of the body diagram begins in the first months of life at the level of reflex reactions, which are transformed in another type of more elaborate movement while the baby, in the second year of his life, explores and knows the environment. This is facilitated by its growing capacity for autonomous movement.
From the age of three until the end of childhood, changes occur at the cognitive level so that the child replaces the subjectivity of understanding the outside world with a more elaborate analytical-rational capacity. Finally, at the age of about 12, the establishment and awareness of the body diagram are completed.
Psychomotor skills in early childhood education
Over the past decades, the Spanish education system has incorporated as relevant some subject content that has traditionally gone unnoticed (or has simply not yet been researched), such as psychomotricity.
However, much remains to be done to ensure that this interest is universally recognized in all fields and in today’s society. This is because the historically established idea that the only relevant learning to teach is instrumental or productive, ignoring that these are often influenced by more expressive learning.
Thus, the deficit in areas such as perceptual, cognitive, emotional organization, etc., which allow psychological balance and an adequate capacity to adapt to the changing environment, can lead to academic failure if it is not is not corrected. In the specific case of psychomotor skills, there are investigations that link the existence of manifestations learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, expressive language or arithmetic calculation disorders that result from problems with sensory integration or deficits in perceptual organization visual or auditory (and bodily, indirectly) of the individual.
More globally, the conformation of personality and intelligence they also start from a correct structuring of the “I” differentiated from the “outside world”, which needs it correct assimilation of the contents linked to the psychomotor skills which make it possible. This is also comparable to the achievement of a satisfactory psychophysiological development, since the coordination and the correct execution of the physical movements of an individual is one of the objectives which are worked on in psychomotricity.
The importance of global development in children
Throughout the foregoing, and in summary, one could say that the need to teach psychomotor content at the early childhood education stage lies in the facilitation of the scope of a comprehensive and integral development of the child (Physical -motor coordination-, affective, social, intellectual), in establishing one’s own identity, in promoting self-awareness, in promoting the acquisition of school learning and in achieving satisfactory social relationships (increased linguistic competence), in the acquisition of sufficient competence in autonomy, personal efficiency, self-concept, etc., and in the development of affective and emotional capacities.
- Lazarus, A. (2010). New experiences in psychomotor education (2nd revised and enlarged edition). Ed. Quagmire: Zaragoza.
- Llorca Llinares, M. (2002). An educational proposal through the body and movement. Ed Aljub: Malaga.