Overview: Improving gross motor skills should be fun. If you want to do some gross motor skills activities with your child, check out these SIMPLE tips!
Do you need to work on improving 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.
What are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills are what help us to control the large muscles of the body which are needed for doing activities such as:
Gross Motor Skills are also related to body awareness, reaction speed, balance, and strength.
Specific gross motor skills include the following:
- Balance – the ability to adjust the body symmetrically
- Body awareness – helps to improve posture and control
- Crossing 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 – using the arms, legs, and torso
- Spatial orientation – awareness of how their body is positioned in space and in relation to other objects or people
Here’s a set of Gross Motor Skills Milestones you can reference to see if your child should work on improving his skills or if he is actually doing well for his age.
Why is it Important to Improve Gross Motor Skills?
The huge increase in technology use has caused many more kids to have underdeveloped gross motor skills. This is because they spend a lot of time sitting down with their eyes glued to a screen.
It’s important to help our kids develop their gross motor skills so that they will gain strength in their large muscle groups. The more coordinated our children become, the more confidence they will have in their physical abilities, which aids in their self-esteem. And working on these skills also requires them to exercise, which is great for their health.
Improving Gross Motor Skills
Most children are able to develop their gross motor skills simply by being given plenty of play time. This is especially true if they are encouraged to spend at least an hour outside each day. However, if your child is struggling, there are plenty of activities to improve gross motor skills that we can do with our children.
Indoor gross motor skills activities:
- Play with a large ball. Sit on the floor and roll the ball back and forth with your child.
- 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 you 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.
Outdoor gross motor skills activities:
- 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.
- Put a 2×4 board 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.
- Have your child play in the sprinkler and perform various leaps through the water.
- Here’s a great list with many more activities to improve gross motor skills in preschoolers!
Environments Which Encourage Development of Gross Motor Skills
Kids benefit from wide open spaces in which to practice their gross motor skills. As parents, there is a lot we can do to set up our kids’ outdoor environment to help significantly with 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. There are even jungle gyms made specifically for toddlers!
- Give children toys to ride on – from bikes to scooters to skateboards to rip stiks.
- Play different ball games with your child, games which would require them to throw, kick, and catch.
- Provide various objects for your children to push, pull, jump off of and jump over.
- Trampolines – My boys love their trampoline, but to keep things safe I recommend purchasing one with an enclosure.
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 other gross motor skills activities you can suggest, please leave a comment below.