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Motor behavior and cognition in children participating and not participating in a motor skills program

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PRADO, Rosa Luciana [1], MENDONÇA, Fernando Cruz de [2], SILVA, Jadisson Gois da [3]

PRADO, Rosa Luciana. MENDONÇA, Fernando Cruz de. SILVA, Jadisson Gois da. Motor behavior and cognition in children participating and not participating in a motor skills program. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 08, Vol. 03, p. 168-180. August 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


Introduction: The identification of levels of development and functionality of the individual is essential for the development of intervention programs that aim to enhance the progress of new skills, remedy already determined difficulties and/or develop new teaching methods. Objective: To verify the effectiveness of a motor skills program for children (3-5 years old), identifying significant differences between groups participating (G1) and non-participants (G2) in a motor skills program at a private school in the city of Aracaju , Sergipe, Brazil. Methodology: Experimental field research with a cross-sectional approach was used. A total of 46 children (3-5 years old) of both genders participated in the study, 23 participating in an interventional motor skills program (G1) and 23 non-participants (G2). The sample was selected by convenience considering the criteria established for the inclusion of subjects: Age, enrollment, participating in the program (G1) and not participating in the program (G2), having signed an Assent Term. To assess the Motor Age (IM) the Motor Development Scale Kit (EDM) (ROSA NETO, 2014) was used and to identify cognitive conservation the Piagetian battery (PIAGET, 1998). Results: Homogeneity in the distribution of data was evidenced. Mean motor age showed significant differences between groups (G1=75.04±4.7; G2=38.61±3.7) (t=6,063; p=0.00); in the Piagetian assessment of Cognition, more subjects (69.5%) were perceived to be concentrated in levels II and III, meaning better cognitive adjustments to the detriment of age group, while G2 prevailed concentration in level I (73.9%); There were significant differences between groups (G1; G2) both in General Motor Age and in cognition levels (p≤0.05). From the findings obtained in the present research, reliable positive changes were found in the elements of the motor skills that underwent stimulation. Conclusion: In view of the analysis, reliable changes can be seen when the psychomotor areas are stimulated in programs revealing that children inserted in this context show improvements in the stimulated areas, therefore, children who practice a motor skills program are more likely to improve their cognitive development than children non-practitioners.

Keywords: Motricity, Children, Cognition.


In the first years of life, motor development is characterized as the achievement of broad motor skills, which through body control allows the individual to perform basic skills, such as getting around and manipulating numerous different objects. Some of these skills are required at the beginning of life, being essential to be used in the child’s daily life, both in their home and school tasks (SANTOS; DANTAS; OLIVEIRA, 2004).

In this way, the motor evolution is characterized as a constant modification of the individual throughout life, and the biological factors and circumstances of the environment in which the child is found determine the variations in the motor performance, as well as influence it, modifying it (HAYWOOD; GETCHELL, 2004).

To this end, the diagnosis of motor development allows researchers to recognize the causes that make movement limited, providing decision-making about the capacities and/or motor parameters that should be focused on in the programs, in the period of action for each skill and, in the child performance goals. This continuous method of change can be observed in the phases of life, from which it has its expansion directly associated with age (HAYWOOD; GETCHELL, 2004).

Therefore, it is worth noting that there are several reasons that lead to a gradual interest in motor development, among them are the reactions of the diagnosis of the individual’s growth and evolution, rehabilitation of the child with delays or deviations in development and adaptations of environments and motor functions in the stages of development. These qualitative and quantitative motor changes are reasons for constant research, not only with the aim of describing changes in motor behavior, but also enabling investigations that can predict these variables (SANTOS; DANTAS; OLIVEIRA, 2004).

In this way, the identification of levels of development and functionality of the individual becomes fundamental for the elaboration of intervention programs that aim to enhance the progress of new skills, remedy already determined difficulties and/or develop new movement methods (CAMPOS et al. , 2008).

In this sense, the present study aimed to verify and discuss the effectiveness of a motor skills program for children aged 3-5 years from a private school in the city of Aracaju, Sergipe.


The research was characterized as experimental and transversal through the comparative investigation of two groups of children (HULLEY; NEWMAN; CUMMINGS, 2003; SILVA, 2004). The first group participated in a motor skills program (experimental group – G1) and the second with children who did not participate in formal motor activities (control group – G2). The study included 46 children (28 boys and 18 girls), aged 3-5 years and enrolled in a private school in the city of Aracaju, Sergipe.

All children were selected by convenience, identified from their participation in the motor skills program (G1) and the other children by random drawing, considering inclusion criteria: 1) The student must be enrolled, present regular attendance at activities; 2) present an Free and Informed Consent Term (TALE) signed by the parents or guardian; 3) the child must be interested in participating in data collection; 4) not having any clinical diagnosis, learning complexity, behavioral or mental changes, sensory deficits, physical deficiencies that affect motor or cognitive development; 5) both sexes, aged between 3 and 5 years.

To assess Motor Age (IM), the Motor Development Scale (EDM) was used, which demonstrated the IM, the General Motor Quotient (QMG), and the quotients of specific motor regions such as: ), global motricity (coordination), balance (static posture), body scheme (imitating posture, speed), spatial organization (perception of space), temporal organization (language, temporal structures) and laterality (hands, eyes and feet) ( ROSA NETO, 2014).

To assess intellectual competence, the Piagetian test was applied – which assesses cognitive development (PIAGET, 1998), detecting the level of thinking reached by children aged 2-7 years (ROSA NETO, 2014).

After the project authorization by the Research Ethics Committee nº 3,294,819, permission of the institution for data collection, and the signature of the TALE by the guardians of the study participants, the children were analyzed and observed individually in the EDM tests and Piagetian tests, in the institution itself, in an appropriate place, with good lighting and without external interference, in two sessions lasting 30 to 50 minutes each.

For data analysis, the Microsoft Excel package was used to tabulate the results and organize the tables and graphs, and the IBM SPSS Statistics 25 statistical package to compare the groups using Student’s T test and Pearson’s linear correlation to verify the existing relationships between the variables studied (IMG and Cognition).


The results found indicate homogeneity in the distribution of data and, therefore, there is no distinction between the studied genders regarding the General Motor Age (IMG) variables (t= -0.617; p=0.541) and the mean of the Piagetian tests to evaluate cognition (t =-0.965; p=0.34).

Table 1 shows the characteristics of the sample (n=46) distributed in two groups of 23 subjects (both genders) and the data are expressed in (Mean + standard deviation) and distribution (frequency) for the Cognition variable (Level I , II and III). Regarding the analysis of the distribution of subjects in the groups (G1; G2) the means were: IM (G1=75.0) and (G2=38.6).

Taking into account these findings, it is noticeable that the group that participates in the motor skills program (G1) had a significantly higher average than the non-participant group (G2). Thus, it is highlighted that the analysis by t test for independent samples indicates that there are significant differences both in the variable IMG and in the mean of the cognition test (Piaget).

The distribution of subjects, by levels of cognition, is shown in (Table 1) and indicates a concentration of subjects from G1 at a level above normal – level II (60.9%) while the concentration of subjects from G2 is at level I (considered normal for the age group).

Table 1. Sample characteristics

Sample (n) 23 23
Chronological Age – IC (months) 54,91±2,25 52,43±2,23
General Motor Age – IMG (months) 75,04±4,7* 38,61±3,7*
Level I of cognition 7 (30,4%) 17 (73,9%)
Level II of cognition 14 (60,9%) 6 (26,1%)
Level III of cognition 2 (8,6%)
Piagetian mean 1,76±0,53** 1,28±0,42**

Levels I, II and III were classified according to the average of the test results (p 1, p 2, p 3, p 4, p 5, p 6) Level I (1 – 1.49); Level II (1.5 – 2.49); Level III (2.5 – 3). *(t=6,063; p=0.00) ** (t=0.813; p=0.000)

Regarding the General Motor Age (IMG) it was also possible to perform an analysis by classification category as shown in table 2.

Table 2. Distribution regarding the classification of motor skills of children aged 3-5 years participating and not participating in a program

QMG rating Number of subjects
G1 G2
Far superior 12 0
Higher 3 0
Normal high 5 2
Average normal 3 7
Normal low 0 1
Bottom 0 3
Much lower 0 10


It is possible to identify the distribution of subjects in terms of IMG classification through risk indicators of the General Motor Quotient (QMG). It can be seen that none of the subjects participating in the program are in risk situations, while 69.3% of children not participating in the motor skills program are below the expected average for their chronological age (Table 2). The impairment of motor structuring affects the cognition of children still at a formative age.

Meanwhile, Piagetian analyzes expressed a significant interaction between the observed groups, taking into account the cognitive scores. There was no statistically significant difference between the sexes compared to the mean of the Piagetian tests for the assessment of cognition (t=-0.965; p=0.34) as shown in Table 1. In the group factor (G1, G2), there was a significant difference between groups. The G1 that participates in the motricity program showed positive and significant evolution as exploration and manipulation, object relationship. The observed results suggest positive effects of the intervention on the cognitive development of children in the motor skills program.

Table 3. Distribution of subjects according to the level reached in the Piagetian tests.

GROUPS Level reached Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5 Test 6
G1* Level I 6 12 11 14 13 6
Level II 7 8 12 5 8 9
Level III 10 3 0 4 2 8
G2* Level I 15 18 21 20 18 15
Level II 5 5 2 2 4 6
Level III 3 0 0 1 1 2

Level I – Normal; Level II – Good; Level 3 – Excellent

Table 3 shows that the number of children who reached levels II and III is higher in G1 when compared to G2. At least 69.5% of the children in G1 reached levels II or III (good or excellent), while in G2 only 26.1% reached the respective levels.

It is noticed that children who practice the motor skills program (G1) are more likely to improve their cognitive development than children who do not.


When correlating motor and cognitive development between the sexes, it is noted that no significant difference was detected between the groups (p=0.541). In the literature there is still a lot of inconsistency correlated with the motor development of children of different sexes. In this sense, Lopes et al. (2003) reports that the evolution of boys is higher, as they have more opportunity to practice physical activity related to cultural issues, occasions experienced in childhood and the types of games and games, which are different between the sexes, disagreeing with the findings in the study in the present research.

However, other studies have found that the motor development of children up to 11 years of age is linear, there is no dissimilarity between the two sexes, but from this age onwards it is possible to perceive a greater development of boys in relation to girls of the same age, corroborating with the findings of the present research (ROSA NETO et al., 2007; PEREIRA et al., 2010; MIRANDA et al., 2011; NOBRE, 2012).

The results of this study showed a significant interaction between the two groups (G1 x G2) participant and non-participant, respectively in the EDM motor scores and in the Piagetian assessment. The group participating in the intervention program achieved a positive and significant balance in all motor scores. As shown in Figure 1, the average General Motor Age (IMG=75.04) was higher in relation to G2, in the same way the Cognition variable behaved, considering an effective response to the environmental intervention (motor experiences). Such behavior did not happen in the group (G2) that does not attend the project, and it is possible to observe that the group has a delay in motor development in relation to chronological age, since its IMG=38.61 indicates an average of values ​​below its CI=52.43, showing a considerable delay, resulting in a negative Age.

As for the classification of the QMG, all subjects in the G1 group who demonstrate higher patterns of development were identified (Table 2). Thus, it is understood that most children have a high motor quotient for their chronological age. Here it is possible to make relevant inferences in the context of the effectiveness of the program because, in addition to favoring their development, the program may play a relevant role in the advancement of motor skills, including improving cognitive aspects.

It is worth noting that in the analysis of motor and cognitive performance, the children participating in the program expressed positive and significant changes after the assessment of cognitive and motor scores, confirming the first hypothesis of the research. This is in line with previous research that investigated the benefits of intervention in delays in motor development and motor coordination (WILLRICH; AZEVEDO; FERNANDES, 2008; MULLER, 2008; SILVA et al., 2011; NOBRE, 2012).

For Caetano; Silveira and Gobbi (2005) both the circumstances and the environment in which the child is inserted, as well as the demands of the suggested tasks, greatly induce the emergence of new skills. In a systematic review study, the effect of motor intervention on the child’s evolution in the first years of life is suggested to be beneficial. The authors highlight the relevance of the type of intervention directed to each age range (BRAGA, 2009).

It is observed in the results that the intervention generates a positive stimulus in the changes of the motor development of each child who were submitted to the training plan elaborated for each psychomotor item, it was possible to verify that each child was able to adapt to the equivalent or superior for their age group. In the study by Nobre et al. (2012) it was evidenced that most of the children submitted to the practices developed within a motor intervention program showed better performance in locomotor practices and object control in relation to children who were not submitted to an intervention program.

Braga et al. (2009) analyzed both national and international research, associated with the intervention, and the results found showed that after the period of stimulation of the program, the children showed significant improvement in motor performance.

In a study developed by Muller (2008), statistically significant differences were observed in the motor program implemented, thus strengthening the importance of developing motor performances for children with motor delay and showing that the sooner this delay is diagnosed, the earlier proposals are implemented interventionists in order to stimulate the child’s motor development.

In another study, the effect of a motor intervention program in the first years of a child’s life was verified. These effects proved that acting in the initial phase can help in human development gains and prevent incapacities or undesirable circumstances in individuals with developmental delays (WILLRICH; AZEVEDO; FERNANDES, 2008).

For Gallahue and Ozmun (2005) the child from 2 to 9 years of age, is in the phase of acquisition of fundamental movements, consequently they formed the basis of an entire next motor acquisition. It is worth noting that several authors justify the relevance of proficient performance in fundamental motor skills for children’s evolution process (VALENTINI, 2007; GABBARD, 2008; STODDEN et al., 2008; HAYWOOD; GETCHELL, 2009; GOODWAY; ROBINSON; CROWE; , 2010).

In the present study, reliable changes were noticed in terms of psychomotor and cognitive areas, which reveals that the child inserted in this context presents “evolution” in the areas stimulated within the motricity intervention program. This evolutionary fact can also be observed in the research carried out by Campos et al. (2008), in which the effect of a psychomotor program aimed at children with low social status was verified. The result achieved in the research obtained a significant statistical increase in the scores in the domains of tonicity, balance, global praxis, fine and spatio-temporal structure in the analyzed samples, which proves the relevance of interaction programs for psychomotor functioning.

The results evidenced by this research, allow the recognition of the work of the Physical Education professional as one of the professionals that integrate a multiprofessional team directed to the early intervention with the child with delay in the improvement of the fine motor coordination, global, balance and among other variables. In this way, the Physical Education professional specializing in psychomotricity has specific functions, such as those performed in this study, such as training in psychomotricity, the application of specific assessment instruments and the development of a stimulation program that meets the real needs of the child in the process of development.


The fundamentals addressed in this study show the motor skills program and the importance of motor stimulation for the global development of children, which can be started in the first years of life. And through their body the child knows and discovers the world and experiences sensations and demonstrates them. In this coherence, it becomes relevant and necessary that all favorable conditions are satisfactory so that the child can properly integrate perceptions and response to stimuli, promoting sensory union and the competence to interact with the environment that surrounds them.

Thus, it is considered that the components of a motor skills program, when stimulated early, provide a beneficial development, avoiding and mitigating developmental limitations, enhancing improvements in the motor and cognitive process. Therefore, children who practice motor skills are more likely to improve their cognitive development than children who do not.


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[1] Master’s in Health and Environment from Tiradentes University (UNIT); Specialization in Exercise Physiology (Centro Universitário Estácio de Sergipe); Graduation in Physical Education (Federal University of Sergipe).

[2] Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education (Centro Universitário Estácio de Sergipe).

[3] Multiprofessional Resident Specialization in Mental Health (University Hospital of the Federal University of Sergipe); Graduation in Physical Education (Centro Universitário Estácio de Sergipe).

Sent: July, 2020.

Approved: August, 2020.

5/5 - (1 vote)

4 Responses

  1. Very good study, can see the importance of early assessment within the possibilities of care that can be performed.

  2. Congratulations!
    Very important research for the scenario of human evolution and learning

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