What are gross motor skills?

Our bodies are driven by groups of muscles and motor skills refers to our ability to control those muscles. When we talk about gross motor skills we’re referring to the larger muscle groups that control the movements of our arms, legs, and body for things like crawling, running, and jumping. When we encourage our children to use those large groups of muscles in a controlled and coordinated way, we are helping them to develop gross motor skills.

Those exciting – and very cute – moments during your baby’s first 16 months, when they learn to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk are all important moments of gross motor skill development. As they get older and begin to play other activities also help this development: throwing and catching a ball, running, bouncing on a trampoline, and playing tag are all example of grow motor skills in action.

Being physically active and fit not only helps your child stay healthy, it also helps their confidence and allows them to let of steam – and vent frustration – in a safe manner.

Most children like to be physically active and encouraging them to be so is good for their mind and their body. Chasing a ball around the garden isn’t just a great alternative to the never ending technology your child encounters on a daily basis, it also prepares them for things they will learn at school like team work, sport skills, and following instructions.

Two very simple ways of helping your child to be active – and develop those gross motor skills while they’re at it – are jumping and ball throwing. Have a competition to see how high or far they can jump. Younger children usually start jumping by lifting one leg at a time – that’s fine. As they learn how their body works and what they can do, they’ll start trying different ways to jump. Before they – and you – know it they’ll be jumping everywhere. If you need a break from the bouncing, grab a couple of buckets and some balls and set up a ball toss. This is a great way to improve hand-eye coordination and it’s easy to adapt – simply moving the bucket further away will change what your child needs to do to get the ball in. Put the bucket up high, bring it in closer, put it behind something – all of these things require gross motor control and encourage problem solving. Best of all they’re affordable and fun.

Gross motor skill control is an important part of your child’s development – but don’t forget children all develop at different stages. By playing with your child and encouraging the types of games that help their body and mind grow in a healthy manner, you’ll soon see if there is anything you should be concerned with. The most important thing is helping your child to grow in a safe, healthy, and happy environment.

Also see our blog post on Fun Activities for Gross Motor Skills Development.