I remember doing gross motor activities in kindergarten, getting outside and walking the balance beam and throwing bean bags into hoops. It was fun. 40 years later I still remember it. But 5-year-old me had no idea of the importance of learning these skills and developing them.
What are gross motor skills? They are the skills developed that involve the larger muscle groups in the body. As babies we don’t have them, but then we hold our heads up, sit up, crawl and then walk.These are all developments we expect to see within certain time frames.
WHY ARE GROSS MOTOR SKILLS IMPORTANT?
Gross Motor Skills are important because they enable children to perform every day skills – walking, running, climbing, etc. Regular participation in gross motor activities has been associated with improved academic performance, attention and memory. They also lay the foundation for fine motor skills.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GROSS MOTOR SKILLS?
- Promotes long-lasting health
- Boosts confidence and self-esteem
- Provides a way to release energy
- Relieves stress and frustration
- Promotes brain development
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GROSS MOTOR SKILLS YOUR CHILD NEEDS?
*Ages are approximate
- Roll over
- Feet in mouth
- Holding head erect
- Crawling on belly
- Sitting independently
- Pulling into standing position
- Stand walking while holding onto furniture
- Walking while holding a toy
- Rolling a ball
- Getting on and off furniture without help
- Climbing on jungle gyms and ladders
- Pedalling a tricycle or using a balance bike
- Throwing overarm
- Standing on one foot
- Running around obstacles
- Hopping on one foot
- Walking on balance beam
Here is a more extensive list of skills and development.
RED FLAGS FOR GROSS MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
If you notice or are concerned about some of the following things about your child, you may want to talk to your physician or another health professional. You may also want to make a referral for your child.
- Child is not meeting developmental milestones
- Walks on his/her toes all the time
- Child is excessively clumsy
- Something appears wrong with child’s legs and/or feet
- Child’s skills are regressing
ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
- Play hopscotch
- Create obstacle courses in the backyard or in the living room
- Jump on a trampoline
- Pretend to be different animals: bear, frog, crab
- Walk along balance beams, lines on the ground, sidewalk curb
- Balloon and bubble play
- Ride bicycles, tricycles, balance bikes, pedal cars
- Martial arts classes