Perceptual motor skills refer to a child’s developing ability to interact with his environment by combining the use of the senses and motor skills. This is viewed as a process where visual, auditory, and tactile sensory abilities are combined with emerging motor skills to develop perceptual motor skills. Perception refers to the process of taking in, organizing and interpreting sensory information, while motor skills refer to the ability to control the body’s movements including the movement of the eyes. Gross motor skills include the movement of large limbs or the whole body as in walking. Fine motor skills are developed with the use of the fingers to grasp and manipulate objects.
There is a mutual dependency between perceptual information and voluntary motor activity. Perceptual abilities are learned and rely upon movement as a way to obtain this learning. Conversely, movement involves a perceptual awareness of sensory stimulation to develop satisfactorily. When functioning normally, this reciprocal interaction is generally done naturally and informally as children explore and play. However, formal training in physical education programs and special remedial therapies are also helpful in developing perceptual motor skills.
These perceptual motor skills include body awareness, spatial awareness, directional awareness, and temporal awareness. Body awareness involves being able to locate body parts and understand the function of them. Spatial awareness is being aware of the space occupied by the body and how to position and maneuver in it. Differentiating between left and right, front and back, top or bottom, and up and down involve directional awareness. Temporal awareness is the ability to understand the concept of time passing, the sequence of events, and the prediction of how soon moving objects arrive.
Activities in perceptual motor skills include:
* Gross motor activities: throwing, catching, kicking, jumping, swinging
* Fine motor activities: cutting, lacing, hammering, buttoning, pouring
*Body awareness activities: naming, pointing, identifying, moving, and performing tasks using body parts
*Spatial awareness activities: moving, exploring, locating, comparing, and identifying using walking, running, catching, rolling, tunnels, mazes
* Directional awareness activities: moving, stationing, pointing, identifying, and imitating using the body, objects, and apparatus
* Balance activities: walking, bounding, and clapping using balance beams and boards, trampolines, and spring boards
*Integration activities: hitting moving balls, tracking moving objects, matching visual and motor responses, and responding to auditory signals
* Expressive activities: art, music, dance and dramatic play