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Children naturally develop their gross motor skills through this type of play

August 31, 2020

For most children, developing their gross motor skills is not high on their to-do list. But do you know what is? Play! The good news is, play is the best way for children to develop these skills. 

Toddle spoke with Renee, the Centre Manager from Sunkids on Scottsdale in Robina, Queensland, to find out more about how her centre supports children to develop their gross motor skills.

What are gross motor skills?

‘Gross motor skills are those which require whole body movement,’ says Renee. 

‘They involve using the large muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as the coordination and movement of arms, legs and other body parts, to help in standing and walking, running and jumping, and sitting upright at the table.’

What are the benefits for children in developing their gross motor skills?

‘Gross motor skills ensure that children are able to do things that involve using the large muscles in the torso, arms and legs,’ shares Renee. 

‘These skills allow them to complete whole-body movements, such as climbing or running after their friends. Children need these skills to have successful experiences at school and in the playground.’

How does a parent know if their child needs help in this area?

‘Parents can look for signs early on to ensure they support gross motor development with their children,’ explains Renee. 

‘Simple milestones such as rolling, crawling, and walking within the estimated milestone expectations are contributing factors.’

The types of things you might expect to see in a child that has problems with their gross motor skills include:

  • Appearing awkward and clumsy during physical activities
  • Being unable to join in with games that other children their age can take part in
  • Avoiding physical activities or purposely performing them in a silly way
  • Having only small amounts of endurance for an activity, getting tired or giving up before anyone else
  • Finding multi-step activities or instructions difficult to understand

What can we expect if children participate in gross motor activities?

‘Regular participation in gross motor activities is associated with improved academic performance and important school day functions, such as attention and memory,’ says Renee.

‘Encourage them to enjoy games such as hopping, jumping, and running back and forth, just for the sheer delight of performing these activities.’

What are 5 examples of gross motor activities and their benefits?

Renee shares some examples of the types of activities that the children at her centre enjoy that help build their gross motor skills. 

These are the types of things that educators encourage the children to take part in every day at child care centres. 

From the children’s perspective, they don’t take much convincing as they see them as a fun game.

  1. Obstacle courses
  2. Riding bikes
  3. Digging in the sandpit
  4. Playing catch
  5. Pumping the water pump

‘From activities such as these, children build their gross motor skills, improve their balance and coordination, and learn social skills that will set them up for life,’ she shares.

What are some good ideas for parents to help develop their child’s gross motor skills at home?

Renee explains that for children, these types of activities are based on enjoyment and fun. You shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your child to try them out.

‘Parents can play an important part in helping their children enjoy simple movements at home,’ explains Renee. 

‘Encourage them to enjoy games such as hopping, jumping, throwing or kicking a ball, and running back and forth, just for the sheer delight of performing these activities.’

Some more ideas for gross motor skill building at home include:

  • Trampolines
  • Obstacle courses
  • Playing hopscotch
  • Hula hoops
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Swimming
  • Climbing trees or walls
  • Skipping ropes
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Wheelbarrow races
  • Riding bikes, trikes or scooters
  • Swings
  • Running races in the garden
  • Chalk lines to balance on
  • Relays
  • The floor is lava

Find out more about Sunkids on Scottsdale here, or search for child care in your area by entering your postcode in the search box at the top of the page.

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Written by

Lee Price

Toddle is the most comprehensive child care finder in Australia, on a mission to make parents’ lives easier.