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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction  3 Benefits of Moving & Learning Movement experiences in general—and this curriculum specifically—have many benefits for children. They exercise the whole body, including the mind, and not just the muscles; they create a love of movement that should develop into a lifetime desire for physical fitness; and their success-oriented philosophy provides numerous opportunities for learning, participating, and enjoying. The following are some of their more specific benefits. Physical Development Perhaps the simplest and most important reason children should be allowed and encouraged to move is to develop movement skills. Although it is commonly believed children automatically acquire motor skills as their bodies develop, maturation only means that children will be able to execute most movement skills at a low performance level. Continuous prac- tice and instruction are needed if the performance level and movement rep- ertoire are to increase (Gallahue and Cleland Donnelly 2003). In other words, once a child is able to creep and walk, gross-motor skills should be taught—just as other abilities are taught. Furthermore, special attention should be paid to children demonstrating gross-motor delays, as such delays will not simply disappear over time. As Linda Carson explains, families and teachers “would not advocate learn- ing to read or communicate by having their children enter a ‘gross cognitive area’ where children could engage in self-selected ‘reading play’ with a variety of books” (2001, 9). Similarly, engaging in unplanned, self-selected physical activities—​or even a movement learning center—is not enough for young chil- dren to gain movement skills. Why does the development of motor skills matter, when not every child will go on to become an athlete or a dancer? It matters because children who feel confident in their movement skills are likely to continue moving throughout their lives. And that’s significant because of the many health problems that can be attributed to sedentary living. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL