What are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills are the abilities required to control the large muscles of the body for walking, jumping, skipping, and more.
How do Motor Skills Develop?
We learn from head to toe, starting as babies. Our upper body muscle control precedes the lower body muscle control. As babies grow, they first develop control in their trunk and then they grow in their control of their elbow, wrist, and fingers. The same goes for the lower body. Control from the hips is first, then control in the legs, feet, and toes.
Next comes manipulation of toys with fingers and hands. Have you ever noticed that a child contorts their feet or tongue in the early days of drawing with a crayon? It’s because they are learning that new skill and it emerges from a near total body involvement.
Lastly, we have the trend of showing preference to one side. For example, kids may start throwing a ball with either hand, but eventually they develop a preference in which hand they use to throw. Children generally experiment with both sides of the body until a preference is made.
So what comes next? After they’ve gained control of their body, they start build up strength in their bodies. Preschoolers (ages 3-5) need lots of opportunities to practice movement! That’s how they learn and grow.
Why Are Gross Motor Skills Important?
Working on gross motor skills helps a child gain strength and confidence in his/her body. It also helps them get exercise and physical activity, which is important for a healthy lifestyle. Developing these skills helps a child's ability to do more complex skills in future activities, such as playing sport with a team.