Do you need to work on improving the gross motor skills of your children? Have you ever watched your sons stumble as they’re clearing the table and dump food all over the floor – or seen them playing with their siblings and thought to yourself, “Oh no, my son is as clumsy as I am!” Don’t panic – there are lots of different ways you can work with your children to help improve their gross motor skills.
We’ve all seen kids who just aren’t as coordinated as some of their peers and thought they were clumsy or a klutz. Many of these children actually have a condition known as developmental coordination disorder. The good news is that you can work with your children and help them to improve their motor skills.
Gross motor skills are also known as being able to control the large muscles of the body which are needed for doing activities such as walking, running, sitting, and crawling.
Specific gross motor skills include the following:
- Balance – the ability to adjust the body symmetrically
- Body awareness – helps to improve posture and control
- Crossing of the mid-line – from one side of the body to the other
- Laterality – awareness of the left and right sides of the body
- Major muscle co-ordination
- Spatial orientation – awareness of how their body is positioned in space and in relation to other objects or people
Without reasonable gross motor skills, children often struggle with the fine motor skills that are required for formal school work.
- Play with a large ball. Encourage your child to kick the ball using one foot and then the other. Then throw and catch it too. You can let some of the air out of a beach ball to make it easier for children who are really struggling with learning to catch.
- Encourage your child to ride a bike. Use either a push bike or pedal bike with or without training wheels, according to your child’s ability.
- Play “Simon Says” with your child.
- Ask him to stand in front of a chair, behind a chair, next to the chair, on top of the chair and crouch under the chair.
- Tell your child that he must be your shadow and mimic all your actions as your walk about and perform simple actions.
- Learn action songs and perform the actions as you sing them.
- Ask your child to imitate the movement of different animals: creep like a snake, waddle like a duck, hop like a rabbit etc.
- Encourage him to balance first on one leg, then on the other for as long as possible.
- Put a 2×4 on the ground and have your child practice walking across it. Have them use their arms to balance. If they fall off, it won’t be a very long drop!
- Ask your child to skip or to gallop like a horse.
Older kids need wide open spaces in which to practice their gross motor skills. As homeschooling parents, we have the ability to arrange the environment of our kids to help with significantly improving gross motor skills in children:
- Give children jungle gyms to climb and slides to go up and down. You can either provide this equipment in your own yard, or take your children to the park on a regular basis and encourage them to play.
- Give children toys to ride on – from bikes to scooters to skateboards.
- Play different ball games with your child, games which would require them to throw, kick and catch.
- Provide objects for your children to push, pull, jump off of and jump over.
- Trampolines – My boys love their trampoline; but you’ll definitely want to consider purchasing a safety net for this piece of equipment.
Encourage your kids to participate in the above kids of play situations when improving the gross motor skills of children. Work with them often. Allow them to practice these skills over and over. Over time, you will be amazed as you watch their clumsiness turn into coordination.
Question: What activities does your child enjoy when working on improving their gross motor skills? If you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.