Gross motor skills are the skills needed to make body movements with the larger muscles of the body. Motor skills are very important for children during the early years. Both fine and gross motor skills help children, but in different ways. Gross motor skills give children the ability to perform everyday tasks. This is why development of gross motor skills is crucial in early childhood.
I have to admit that in our home we spend a lot more time dedicated to fine motor skills. Now that I have learned that gross motor skills need just as much practice as fine motor skills, that is changing!
Let’s get into why gross motor skills are so important in early childhood and what they help our children with.
What are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills involve the movement and coordination of our arms, legs and other large muscles of the body. Gross motor skills are actually divided into two groups. These groups are locomotor skills object control skills.
The locomotor skills include activities like walking, running, jumping. Object control skills include activities such as: throwing, kicking and catching.
Why are Gross Motor Skills Important?
Development of gross motor skills in early childhood is very important for a variety of reasons. Children are able to do so many tasks once these skills are developed.
Helping our children to strengthen the larger muscles in their body will allow them to do a large variety of activities independently. This is what we’re aiming for right?!
Gross motor skills start developing from birth. Remember “tummy time”? This is a prime example of how gross motor skills start developing in early childhood.
Next babies are able to raise up on their elbows, sit up, crawl and then eventually walk. As children grow older they discover they can do even more with their bodies!
By the time a child reaches preschool age, which is around 3, they will be able to jump, hop and maybe even kick. Once children reach this age it’s vital for parents to be intentional on helping preschoolers exercise those large muscles to help develop their gross motor skills.
Gross Motor Skills Activities
Activities that will help your child work on gross motor skills carry a lot of benefits. As your child practices using the larger muscles of the body you will see them improve their:
While your child continues to work those large muscles they are also:
- having fun
- gaining some socialization skills playing games with others
- preparing to maybe play on team sports
- getting regular exercise which increases their physical activity
Some activities you can have child do to work on developing gross motor skills include:
- jumping jacks
- chasing bubbles
- balancing activities
- chasing balloons games
- obstacle courses
- jumping rope
All of these lead to building healthy habits that we all would love our children to carry out throughout their lifetime!
Of course you know your child better than anyone else. Start off with simple activities to see what your child is capable of. Once you have established a base line, you can gradually work your way up to harder activities.
Remember that each child is different and will reach certain milestones at their own pace and in their own time. Everything in early childhood education requires patience and a lot of practice.
In conclusion, gross motor skills in early childhood are very important. These skills give our children the ability to do so many everyday activities.
I would like to encourage you, if you haven’t already, to be intentional about making time to practice working the large muscles of the body. This will help your little one strengthen their gross motor skill abilities.