MDRL 14 Spring Registration - Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education

Motor Development Research Laboratory (MDRL)

Program Overview

Since the summer of 1992, the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at Northern Illinois University has offered the Developmental Motor Development Research Program (MDRP) to young children of the DeKalb community. The program offers the children an opportunity to develop motor abilities, acquire motor skills, and experience the joy of physical activity. It also provides a resident group of young children for research in motor development and learning, and serves as a laboratory experience for students enrolled in teacher preparation and early childhood programs.

Program Objectives

Children participating in this program will be developmentally instructed in activities designed to accomplish the following objectives: 1) learn to move the body efficiently in a variety of ways; 2) become proficient in the fundamental motor skills that underlie sports and games of our culture, e.g., throwing, catching, running, jumping, etc.; 3) develop health-related components of fitness such as cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and body composition; 4) develop a body image that includes knowledge of names, location, functions, relationships, and movement of body parts; 5) experience a variety of movement concepts such as different dimensions of space, effort, and relationships; 6) develop an understanding of health concepts such as nutrition and physical activity for a better lifestyle; and 7) develop positive self-esteem and self-concept through movement experiences.

Benefits to Children

The structure of the brain is determined by movement experiences. Neurologist Harry Chugann (1996) demonstrated that movement experiences have a strong impact on the intricate circuits of the neurons (size and complexity).

  • Movement experiences provide the organizational structure of the brain. According to Bruce Perry (1996), the psychomotor stimulation during the first 10 years of life is critical for the formation of all the neuronal synapses.
  • Early childhood is the prime time for the formation of lifetime patterns, such as dietary, physical activity, discipline, and hygiene habits.
  • Movement is very important for the social and personal development of children.
  • Movement is a social language. Children evaluate themselves according to how efficiently they move or execute a skill. Physical activity can promote healthier social interactions among children.
  • Children without the fundamental patterns of movements are 3 times more sedentary than skillful children of the same age (Magill, 1993).
  • Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is still America's #1 killer (NCHS, 1994).
  • High blood pressure affects about 50 million Americans, including 2.8 million children 6-17 years of age.
  • American children have high rates of obesity - up to one-third are overweight and 11 million is anticipated by the Year 2000 (Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 1995).


The program is directed by Dr. Clersida Garcia, associate professor of physical education. Dr. Garcia is assisted by several graduate teaching assistants with expertise in the area of elementary physical education and motor development.