The effect of a Physical Education programme on the perceptual-motor skills of Grade 1 learners in a primary school in South Africa
Research shows that motor development is essential and fundamental for a child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development from an early age. The development of perceptual-motor skills adds to the improvement of school readiness skills, which include reading, listening, writing and language skills. According to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), the focus in Physical Education (PE) in the Foundation Phase should be on physical growth and learners’ physical development, contributing to a healthy and active lifestyle, but the most important goal is to develop motor skills. Ensuring optimised motor development programmes should be purposefully planned and organised. However, schools in lower socio-economic areas often find it difficult to present developmentally-appropriate PE programmes due to a lack of trained PE teachers, facilities and resources. In light of the above, the main aim of this study was the effect of a PE programme presented by a specialist PE teacher, on the perceptual motor skills of selected Grade 1 learners. The objectives of the study were as follow: Firstly, to determine the effects of a PE programme on the perceptual motor skills of Grade 1 learners; and secondly, to determine the levels of perceptual motor skills of Grade1 learners, in comparison to that of the age norms, before the intervention. The study was based on quantitative research within the theoretical perspective of the positivistic approach, which is a research philosophy known for its objectivity based on independent variables. The quantitative data collection included conducting standardised perceptual-motor tests before and after the ten-week- long intervention programme. A convenience sample (N=103) was selected from the participating school in a lower socio-economic area and divided into an experimental-(n=78) and a control group (n =25). The weekly PE lessons consisted of a warm-up, a variety of fundamental movement and perceptual-motor skills, and a cool-down activity including a game. Improvised apparatus were made from scrap materials and used in the PE programme. The data analysis included descriptive statistics and inferential statistics including t-tests and ANCOVA. After the second round of perceptual-motor tests had been conducted, the PE programme was presented to the control group. The results of the pre-test showed that the perceptual-motor skills of both the experimental and control groups were below average compared to their age norms. After the intervention, the experimental group’s balance walk forward and backwards, ball catching, ball kicking and hopping skills showed statistical and practical significance while the control group’s perceptual motor skills did not improve. It can be concluded that the 10-week PE programme had a positive effect on the perceptual-motor skills of the Grade 1 learners. It is, therefore, recommended that scientific, developmentally appropriate PE programmes should be presented by trained PE teachers, to improve the perceptual-motor skills of young learners. PE programmes can make a positive contribution to the academic, social, psychological and physical development of Grade 1 learners in South African schools in lower socio economic areas.
- Education