Physical activity is essential for a child’s physical and intellectual development, and gross motor skills play a crucial role in assisting with that.
What are gross motor skills?
Gross motor skills are movements that require the use of the larger muscles in the body. They involve the entire body or a section of the body and play a role in life’s everyday movements such as standing, bending, walking, running, jumping, skipping, sitting upright, and more.
How motor skills develop
Babies acquire motor control from the top down – starting from their heads down to their toes. They develop gross motor skills first, honing any manipulative skills. Control of the muscles of the upper body comes before that of the lower body muscles. First, learn how to control their head and the trunk. Then, they develop control for the elbows, wrists, and fingers. Later they know how to monitor the hips and, finally, the knees, ankles, feet, and toes.
Manipulative skills tend to come in tandem with their corresponding gross skills. That is why you will see Your Child stretch out the tongue when attempting to draw with a pencil for the first time. At that stage, that activity involves a whole-body movement, but over time, the little one learns to manipulate only the muscles involved in the action.
The last stage in motor skills development is showing a preference for one side. Children usually use both hands and legs until they discover their dominant side.
Types of gross motor movements
Gross motor movement are classified into three:
- Locomotor skills: These are the ability to move from one place to another and include walking, running, hopping, jumping, galloping, leaping, sliding, skipping, and climbing. They mainly involve the control of the muscles of the lower body.
- Non-locomotor skills: They include the ability to perform specific tasks without moving. Examples are pushing, pulling, bending, stretching, turning, falling, rising, and swinging.
- Manipulative skills: These skills are used in handling objects, such as playing with toys, kicking, throwing, and catching.
Why gross motor skills are important
Developing gross motor skills is important for the following reasons:
- It enables Your Child perform everyday functions, such as walking, sitting, bending, running, and many more
- It helps children gain strength and confidence in their bodies
- By working on the gross motor skills, Your Child gets to exercise the body, which is very important to the little one’s health
- Gross motor skills are necessary for performing more complex tasks, such as swimming or playing soccer
Free play outdoors is the best
Whenever children play freely in a garden, a playground, or park, they practice many motor skills. Motor development will naturally occur as they run around, climb on trees or jump outdoors. So, if you can, try bringing Your Child outside as much as possible.
Ketsupa Jirakarn (Mental health specialist) (31 March 2021)