Physical and Motor Competence
both in the fiftieth percentile for height and weight, with average
motor coordination and abilities.

The five run with energy and power. Jared stumbles and falls,
scraping his knees; he leaves the race crying and looking for a teacher.

Jeremy tries to catch up with the others. DeLisa steps out of the
race, panting and breathless. Caitlin, short and fast, and Mac, with
his long stride, arrive at the tree at the same time. Both proclaim
themselves the winner. An argument ensues, unfriendly words are
exchanged, and Caitlin announces she is going to tell the teacher.

Jeremy, in the meantime, fights back tears. The game was his idea,
after all, and he expected to win. Disappointed at losing, he joins
DeLisa, and the two decide they are not going to play with Mac and
Caitlin anymore.

As the story illustrates, children in competition experience advantage
or disadvantage at times due to the wide range in their physical/motor
abilities, size, body type, and experience. While physically active games are
enjoyable for young children when they are simple and, for the most part,
created by them, they often find actual competition frustrating, defeating,
and unrewarding.

Games created by children characteristically involve spontaneously
created rules. Creating a game, creating the rules, trying to make them
fair, picking “even” teams, and calling out players who try to cheat all help
in children’s social and moral development (something we’ll examine in
later chapters). In this way, games serve important psychosocial functions
in child development; they encourage and enhance children’s physical and
moral well-being.

The importance of child-created games raises questions about the
current situation in the United States in which so many young children
are involved in sports that are organized, coached, and refereed by adults.

Children naturally invent games. Giving them the opportunity to do so
and to deal with the issues that come up allows them to learn about fair
play and cooperation and to develop effective problem-solving skills in a
way that adult-run games do not. Adults can offer an advantage in child
care settings, however: They can gently guide games toward outcomes
that are enjoyable for every participant.

Chapter 1 examined physical development, large- and small-motor de-
velopment, increasing body and gender awareness, new locomotor skills,
and the importance of opportunities to interact, explore, and play with
peers. The next chapter explores the relationship between physical/motor
development and psychosocial/cognitive development. You’ll learn more
Copyright 2007 by Redleaf Press. Published by Redleaf Press. All rights reserved including electronic duplication and reproduction.

Understanding Preschooler Development
about the important connection between preschoolers’ self-concept and
their general awareness of physical characteristics and abilities. You’ll see
how their growing abilities give them new opportunities to learn about the
world around them and to help them begin taking responsibility for their
own health and safety.

Copyright 2007 by Redleaf Press. Published by Redleaf Press. All rights reserved including electronic duplication and reproduction.