What are gross motor skills and how to promote them
I wasn’t 100% sure whether I should start a little blog or not on our store site but thought there is so much to know about sensory play and the different types of skills that it helps to promote that I thought “why not”.
Today I wanted to focus on Gross Motor Skills. I remember before I had kids I wouldn’t have been able to really tell you about gross motor skills, why they are important or even how to help promote them in little kids. They are skills, that as adults, we very much take for granted and can’t even remember how we learnt to do, however, they are extremely vital in our everyday life.
So let’s start at the very beginning… What exactly are Gross Motor Skills?
These are skills that involve the larger muscles in our body (our arms, legs and torso). Our gross motor skills allow us to walk, run, throw, lift, kick etc. (all those little activities that we adults think we just knew how to do). Gross Motor Skills also allow us to control our balance, have body awareness, strength, reaction speed and hand-eye co-ordination. They are absolutely vital for our everyday function and we rely heavily on them to get dressed (particularly were we balance on one leg to put pants or socks on), be able to sit upright at the table or in class and maintain strength and balance to carry bags.
At Play with Elorias we are all about building skills in fun and inviting ways. It is absolutely essential to us that our little ones develop a positive relationship with learning and skill building and so I have listed 5 ways below to help promote these essential skills in your child.
A lot of gross motor skills require balance and co-ordination (think walking, running, jumping, hopping). Hopscotch is a fantastic and fun way to explore these skills. In our house we simply use masking tape to create a hopscotch course down our hall way or use chalk out on the driveway. As an additional bonus it is fantastic for number development and recognition as they bounce through.
If you have ever felt guilty for spending the WHOLE day at the park, don’t. Park play can have so many benefits for the growth and development of our little ones. Swings help to foster balance and co-ordination (how hard is it to learn to push your legs forward while learning backwards - co-ordination of weight is actually a pretty tricky skill for them to master). Other great ways to build co-ordination at the park is to use unstable equipment, like wobble bridges, rope climbs (plus they are great for building those leg and trunk muscles).
OBSTACLE COURSES AND BALANCE BEAMS
Who didn’t love a good obstacle course when they were little? Depending on what type of obstacle course you decide to build or have access to they are a one stop shop for gross motor development, absolutely amazing at building all of the gross motor skills in our kids.
This one is an absolute favourite in our house. We are huge bike riders and have seen the huge increase in motor development as a result. Watching a child graduate from a trike, to a balance bike to a pedal bike with training wheels to a pedal bike without training wheels. From riding on the flat concrete, to riding on hills, to riding on jumps, to riding on bmx tracks bike riding is a really great way to witness gross motor development in action.
Playing any type of ball game (tennis, basketball, baseball, footy, soccer) or even bouncing a balloon and keeping it in the air are fantastic ways to develop hand eye co-ordination. These are also great ways to develop core strength. Hand-eye co-ordination isn’t just great for sport activities, it is also essential for handwriting, eating and a large number of other everyday activities.
When assessing gross motor development in our kids it is extremely important to remember that ALL children develop differently and at different rates. While I am no expert, and if you are ever concerned about your childs development you should seek medical advice. Remember as a mum, no one knows your child like you do.
Sometimes learning the key skills needed in life can be as simple as going to the park. Learning doesn’t have to be complicated, just fun.