A well-known fact is that all motor development is directly associated with sensory development. Therefore, most motor exercises involve one or more sensory components, which encourage the duality of sensory-motor development in children.
The motor organs are known to be associated with visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory senses through reflexes, eye-hand coordination, and facial motor reflexes. Motor development is also associated with two major senses that contribute specifically towards motor development – the kinesthetic and vestibular senses.
The kinesthetic sense includes the senses of position and movement of the body. It is studied through muscle vibration, posture, the position of the skeletal joints, tension, and compression of the muscles in the body. It is through the kinesis of touch, motion, and movement that children absorb information. Kinesthetic learners have a unique method of engaging in play that includes building or tearing apart structures, modeling clay, making crafts, feeling different textures, and engaging in rhythmic motions like clapping and writing things down.
The vestibular sense is associated with the development of balance, equilibrium, postural control, muscle tone, maintaining a stable visual field while moving, and bilateral coordination. The vestibular system is the first sensory system to develop in the womb and is located within the innermost part of the ear, working in coordination with the other sensory systems. This system sorts and relays incoming sensory information from other sensory organs and passes it onto the various sensory regions of our brain. A well-responsive vestibular system makes the child feel secure and confident in their own body and enables the child to work, rest and play when they feel like it. This system is what enables the child
to balance, track moving objects, eye-hand (fine motor) coordination especially when writing or drawing,
in maintaining muscle tone (with respect to readiness toward movement),
in language development,
in self-care and independence (in the sense that they can button up a shirt or tie laces by themselves),
in sleeping and waking, and
in tone and volume control during speech.
The vestibular and kinesthetic senses work in coordination with each other and with the other senses, playing a vital role in the holistic sensory-motor development of the child. Most of our preschool activities are directed toward the development of these motor senses.
For example, games that involve jumping, running, hopping, spinning, swinging, stretching and yoga poses all stimulate these senses, increasing the child’s coordination, balance, and synchronized movement. Preschool activities are also known to stimulate the child’s proprioceptive sense which can be regulating, calming, soothing, organizing, and/or alerting, depending on the current state of our nervous system. This is responsible for the development of a child’s alertness and concentration which is vital for the child’s learning as s/he grows older.
– Madhumitha Nivi