The clinical and academic correlates of a perceptual training programme for Grade 1 children

Zimbler, Linda
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A training programme aimed at the motor, perceptual, conceptual and social "bases of learning was devised, in order to determine whether administration of such a programme could enhance these areas of functioning in Grade I children. Two groups of children were chosen: low socio-economic children and high socio-economic children. The experimental and control groups comprised two subgroups each: a high socio-economic sub-group and a low socio-economic sub-group. The same battery of tests assessing the motor, perceptual, conceptual and social functioning of all the children was administered before and after the training programme, which was run for the experimental group only. The comparison of before-after scores was achieved by means of analysis of variance and analysis of covariance. The results indicated that such a training programme could be successfully administered by the Grade I teacher. The results indicated further that all children subjected to the training programme improved in the areas of tactile discrimination, auditory discrimination, visualmotor co-ordination, visual discrimination, language ; development and verbal fluency and conceptual development. When children of high socio-economic status Were compared with those of low socio-economic status differences in the quality and quantity of improvement emerged. On school entry, the latter lagged behind the former in the abovementioned areas, as well as in maturity level and reading readiness. Those of low socio-economic standing showed most sensitivity to training in the tactile discrimination, visual-motor, language development and verbal fluency, social maturity and reading readiness areas. Although these children showed increased rates of improvement in these areas when compared with their high socio-economic counterparts, a ten-week programme was insufficient to bridge the gap between the groups. In view of this finding, it was suggested that the socio-economi variable be more closely heeded in future diagnosis of learning disability.