We know the importance of gross motor skills development in our babies, toddlers, preschoolers, adolescents. As we take them out swimming, walking, scooting, cycling, perhaps we can understand the science behind it and why gross motor skills activities are important.
What are Gross Motor Skills?
Everyone requires gross motor skills – the ability to control muscles for large movements like walking, jumping, running, climbing, throwing. Several body parts need to be coordinated for various physical activities.
All the activities need strength, balance, coordination and endurance. Hence, developing gross motor skills is essential for healthy bodies and growing brains.
Examples of Gross Motor Skills
- Balancing on one foot
- Going up and down stairs
How Gross Motor Skills Relate to Learning
Many children learn kinesthetically which means they learn by doing and through movement, touch and manipulation. Gross motor skills are required in learning kinesthetically.
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Sports, dance, outdoor play help develop both gross motor skills and kinesthetic learning abilities.
Engaging in physical activities is essential for being physically competent. Most children love to move as this gives them vestibular input, which is the sensory information received in the inner ear to maintain balance, spatial orientation and head-eye coordination. Vestibular skills are essential in developing gross motor skills especially in activities like rolling, swinging, spinning.
Some children might love fidgeting in the classroom or love moving around. This vestibular-seeking behaviour actually helps them learn!
Gross Motor Skills Activities for Kids, Preschoolers and Toddlers
If your child needs some help with his or her gross motor skills, there are plenty of gross motor skill activities that they can do to develop those big movements.
Here are a selection of gross motor skill activities for kids, including preschoolers and toddlers.
- Sports: Parents, toss your child a ball, or play a game of cat and mouse with them
- Hide and seek: This childhood game combines the thrill of the hunt with helping kids to be more aware of their bodies.
- Catching or Tag: There is plenty of excitement in a game of catching or tag.
- Outdoor play: Visit a park or playground near you
- Ball activities: Great for practising movements such as throwing and catching.
- Dance: Dance classes can develop coordination, balance and rhythm
- Songs with actions: There’s a reason why Wheels on the Bus is such a popular activity-song.
- Playgrounds: Having to climb up and down, or navigate their way from play element to play element is a great way for kids to practise their gross motor skills.
- Hula hoops: Besides trying to spin them around the waist, hula hoops are also good for games like creating a tunnel for an obstacle course, or as a goal for a bean bag toss.
- The Floor is Lava: Yes, even this simple activity can help kids make use of their skipping and balancing skills.
- Skip rope: Skipping help kids to coordinate their legs.
- Bikes: Getting on a set of wheels can do wonders for gross motor skills. This can start off with kick bikes and then progress on to learning how to ride.
- Scooters: If your child prefers standing on a kick scooter, that works too!
- Hopscotch: The simple game of hopscotch should be part of every child’s childhood. It is simple yet fun.
- Musical Chairs: This childhood game combines gross motor skills with a dash of excitement.
- Trampolines: Bouncing up and down can also help kids to develop their gross motor skills while having plenty of fun and expending energy at the same time.
- Freeze: When the music stops, kids need to turn into statues. But while they music is going, they also get to develop their gross motor skills.
- Learning through play: playing with balls, balance boards, building obstacle courses
- Helping out in chores: doing age-appropriate chores kill two birds with one stone
You may also be interested to learn about the importance of fine motor skills activities in toddlers and preschoolers.