Last week we focused on Fine Motor Skills, so naturally, this week we have transitioned to Gross Motor Skills!
What are Gross Motor Skills?
While Fine Motor Skills focus on small, targeted movement with our hands and wrists, Gross Motor Skills focus on whole-body movements using big muscle groups and limbs such as our torso, arms and legs! Starting in infancy from holding their head up and sitting independently, and moving to rolling and walking, it is always so important to work on motor skills daily! Building these skills will allow your child to become more independent and explore their world in new ways. As they get older, they will become more proficient and apply their Gross Motor Skills in order to function on a daily basis. Just as we did in our post on Fine Motor, track your movements over 20-30 minutes of your day. Notice just how often you twist, bend, stand, sit, reach, lift, pull, or push an object. All of those skills require mastery of Gross Motor Skills.
I like the way this image below clearly outlines the types of Gross Motor Skills one can work towards.
Locomotor activities include: walking, running, hopping, jumping, sliding, skipping, leaping and galloping. These are movements where the body travels in space from one place to another!
Non-Locomotor activities include: bending, stretching, twisting, lifting, reaching, turning, pushing, and pulling! These are movements where the body stays in one spot but uses the space around it.
Manipulative Skills include: throwing and catching a ball, kicking a ball, bouncing a ball, skipping rope, and swinging a bat. These are movements where you use your hands or feet to complete a task with another object, such as a piece of sporting equipment.
I love the website pathways.org as a resource for milestones, especially motor skills! As I have mentioned previously, while milestones tend to have listed age ranges, they are based on averages and each child moves at their own pace! Many children accomplish these milestones earlier or later than the stated ranges and that is TOTALLY okay! If ever you are concerned, always check with your pediatrician.
I love this document as a resource for some activities to do in your home that focus on specific Gross Motor Skills. Alternatively, the OPHEA (Ontario Physical and Health Education Association) is a great resource with lesson plans that often inform the Phys Ed curriculum within schools.
Ultimately, I believe that getting outside is the most simple activity or plan you can have. Playgrounds and nature spots lend themselves to building these skills without very much planning or effort! A playground often has opportunities for children to walk, run, climb, pull, push, swing, slide, turn, etc. You can also have a few simple sporting items (balls of various textures and sizes, rackets or bats, skipping rope, etc.) and build activities around what you have!
There are also tons of free resources, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga or even dance tutorial videos on the internet! All of these tools together will help your child build and develop their Gross Motor Skills. While there are tons of modular couches designed for kids to build and climb on, they aren't in any way necessary to have in order to create a solid foundation of these skills at home. In addition, there are likely many sports or movement-based programs that you can enroll your child in through your local city or town, community centre or school. Not only do these offer an opportunity for social engagement and leadership, but a great chance to develop those Gross-Motor Skills in new ways.
Whatever you decide, providing opportunity for movement and practice daily is the key to helping your child grow these skills.