Effects of increased physical education and motor skills acquisition on scholastic performance

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Ingegerd Ericsson
Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University


Current recommendations for physical activity in children focus on the quantitative aspects of physical activity and health-related components of physical fitness. The importance of motor skill acquisition early in life is often overlooked, which may limit qualitative aspects of interventions, such as motor skill development, socialization and enjoyment of exercise. The aim in this article was to present current knowledge regarding effects of physical education (PE) programs and motor skills practice on cognitive function and scholastic performance. Searching for reviews and meta-analyses was done in ERIC via Ebsco, Google Scholar, MEDLINE, PUBMED, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, Summons, and Research Gate. The main findings show that cognition is grounded in perceptual-motor experiences within social and cultural contexts and perceptual-motor behaviors can facilitate readiness to learn and scholastic performance in school. Motor skill screening provides a valuable tool for identifying children in need of adapted support in motor skill development. Motor skill observations are recommended at school start to increase the predictability of later achievement. Specific ‘adapted’ interventions should be offered to children with motor skill deficits in order to benefit motor development and motivation for participation in physical activities.


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INGEGERD ERICSSON is an associate professor in Sport Sciences at Malmö University. She is an educated teacher in Physical Education and in Special Needs Education. In 1984 she started MUGI (Motor Skills Development as Ground for Learning) and was in charge of the pedagogical research in the Bunkeflo project – a health promoting lifestyle (also known as the Pediatric Osteoporosis Prevention study). Ericsson’s doctoral thesis Motor Skills, Attention and Academic Achievements was published in 2003. Information on MUGI motor skills observations and PE research can be found on www.mugi.se.

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