Gross Motor Skills
What are motor skills?
Motor skills are an essential factor of development for all children. These skills are movements of the body which are made when the brain, nervous system and muscles work in conjunction with each other. Through each stage of a child’s development, motor skills will continue to develop from small grasps of the hand to jumping and catching. Both fine (small) motor skills and gross (large) motor skills will contribute to a child’s development and independence.
Gross motor skills
Gross motor skills are the larger actions a baby/child makes; these skills concern the larger muscles in the body creating bigger movements and actions. Examples include when a baby is able to lift and move their head on their own or rolling over, and for slightly older children examples of gross motor skills include actions like running, skipping and jumping.
It is important to remember that fine and gross motor skills work hand in hand together. For example, once a child has mastered the everyday gross motor abilities such as getting in and out of bed, walking up and down the stairs and putting on clothes, the fine motor abilities will then allow for increased independence in smaller yet equally significant ways, such as brushing their teeth, undoing and doing up the buttons on their clothes, tying shoelaces, washing hands and so on.
Encouraging motor skills
You can encourage a child’s development of motor skills by offering lots of opportunities for practice. Regularly plan outdoor and indoor activities, and give children the resources to play with that will motivate them to use these skills. Ball games are great for building on the gross motor skills as they can be open to interpretation and children can get their whole bodies moving; you can show them a game to play and then let them play freely to their own liking, allowing them to use their imagination. Stacking blocks and Lego are also great for the fine motor skills as children have to pick the blocks up and work out where they need to be placed.
Try to steer away from doing things that can discourage this development; for instance, rather than using a stroller or carrying a baby who can walk/almost walk, it is worth letting them practice their walking skills where possible using you or other objects as a balance if necessary.
Physical development - Gross motor skills
Learn more about gross motor skills as part of the early years foundation stage (EYFS) including advice from experts and suggested activities.
Why gross motor skills are important
Gross motor skills are the skills that children develop using their whole body. You can see this from a baby’s earliest efforts to move and travel, to young children coordinating whole body movements. By using their whole bodies children become increasingly confident, agile and flexible.
All children need to be confident in their gross motor skills and movements. For some children this confidence will come in smaller steps and take longer to achieve. Be patient, giving them time and space, and encouraging words. Take expert advice for children with physical and mobility additional needs. This may increase childrens’ development of muscular strength, ability to take well intentioned, safe risks and become increasingly well-coordinated.
Gross motor skills affect wellbeing and give children opportunities to socialise in play. Confidence and coordination in gross motor skills are essential for children in developing their fine motor skills.
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Gross Motor Skill Activities: