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Gross Motor Skills are skills that develop through using the large muscles of the body in a
coordinated and controlled way.
Movements of the whole arms, the
legs and the trunk are all gross motor movements.
Just a few examples are:
catching a ball, balancing, climbing, jumping on a trampoline, playing tag and
And those come after the momentous gross motor
development that a baby undergoes in 16 short months of life: rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking!
Here are quick links to different sections on this page that tell you more about these important skills:
Gross motor skills develop through practice and repetition,
which is why a baby takes weeks to perfect the art of rolling, sitting
or crawling, and a child can take a whole season to learn how to catch a
ball while running.
Children need to be exposed to diverse opportunities to move freely and experiment with different resources to help their skills develop.
However, for normal gross motor development to take place, the brain, spine, nerves and muscles need to be intact and undamaged.
If damage has occurred through birth trauma, accident or illness, then
progress of motor skills, as that of other skills, may be affected.
you suspect that your child has sustained some damage to the brain or the body,
please consult your health professional right away.
There are many factors that can affect the development of gross motor skills:
Access to media and technology has
given our kids great exposure to all kinds of information that the
previous generation did not have, but the cost is that kids may miss out on opportunities to develop their physical motor
skills in outdoor and indoor play.
Growing up in a protected environment
can actually be hazardous to our health! We don’t let our kids play
outside, walk to the park or cycle to friends anymore. We are trying to
keep them safe, which is great, but their motor skills can be adversely
affected by the lack of physical opportunity.
Babies tend to spend a lot of time in car seats, walking rings
and in front of screens. These are all adaptations made necessary by the demands
of modern life, but too much time in "baby gear" can have a detrimental impact on their
A sedentary lifestyle,
accompanied by too much rich food, means that adults are less likely to
engage in physical games with their children. Kids then don’t have good
role models, and prize other things more highly than physical activity
and good health.
Underlying physical difficulties with coordination, balance, motor planning, and concentration can all affect a child’s ability to take part in, and benefit from, gross motor activities. These difficulties may stem from birth trauma, Sensory Processing Disorder, developmental delays, genetic abnormalities or many other causes. If you are at all concerned about your child's gross motor development, please consult a health professional! This website is not a substitute for an occupational therapy evaluation and treatrment!
When your child's friends come to play, spend a few minutes in an organized gross motor activity with them. Show them how to jump rope, build an obstacle course, or play some relay races. They will love having you involved for a few minutes, and they may be inspired to continue with the activity once you're done!
Make frequent park dates and encourage your child to climb, swing and run. Make the most of the equipment available - in my e-books, I have some ideas for using the playground equipment for core and shoulder exercises.
These e-books will give you loads of easy gross motor exercises and activities at your fingertips, in an accessible format, for the price of a few coffees.
Or try some of thefree gross motor activities on my site that can help your child develop coordination skills, core strength and much more.
Invest in a few resources such as beanbags, trampolines and therapy balls - you can do sooooo much with these. Check out the gross motor resources I've picked out at PFOT for your convenience! (this is an affiliate link. Use the coupon code OTmom to get 15% off your purchase of $35 or more at PFOT)
Cameron, C.; Cottone, E. A.; Murrah, W. M. & Grissmer, D.W. (2016).
How Are Motor Skills Linked to Children's School Performance and Academic
Achievement? Child Development Perspectives. 10(2). 10.1111/cdep.12168.
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All activities should take place under close adult supervision. Some activities use small items which may cause choking. The activities suggested on this website are NOT a substitute for Occupational Therapy intervention. Please read my disclaimer before you use any of the activities.
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