Gross motor skills are important because of:
Health: Any sort of exercise promotes obvious benefits of exercise to the body and mind.
Confidence & Self Esteem: Gross motor skills allow children to feel comfortable and confident during activities like group sports and games.
Ability to Assess Risk: Another important life skill, not only with physical well being but with taking risks in life with decision making.
Energy Release: This helps in all domains of physical, social, and emotional well being. Energy release allows our children to focus on tasks, impacting their learning in all areas.
Brain Development: The early years lay the foundation of brain pathways for lifelong motor skills and aid in learning, especially learning skills that require advanced thinking and mental dexterity.
Nowadays a lot of our gross motor development has taken a back seat, because of things like iPads, game consoles, tv, etc. Some children would much rather sit in front of some sort of electronic device, than get up and move or go outside. In our role as teachers, mentors, and parents, it is important to discourage this and encourage at least one hour of outside play everyday. It doesn't have to be anything fancy! Outside play can be as simple as a walk or bike ride, a game of catch in the back yard, or a trip to the playground.
Inside play can also develop gross motor skills as well, you just have to use your imagination. For the Gross Motor presentation that Mrs. Blake and I facilitated, we provided parents with easy ideas and strategies to use at home that are fun for the whole family. Here are some examples that you can implement today:
Yoga is a great exercise to do at home. Its fun, relaxing, can involve the whole family, and is a great opportunity to work on self regulation.
Rolling a ball back and forth to each other is another good exercise that you can easily make into a fun game. It also encourages coordination and turn taking. This activity can be expanded to further develop these skills, to tossing and catching a ball, depending on the developmental level of your child.
Hide and Seek is a great game for all members of the family. Trying to find a tricky place to hide will definitely promote some good gross motor movement and it's fun!
“Simon Says” is another fun game that everyone loves. Not only does it promote gross motor movement, it’s a great listening and direction following game. You can make the movement requests as tough or as easy as you would like.
Everyone has core strength and muscles that they don’t even know are there. The trick is to teach everyone, especially children, to ENGAGE their core muscles.
Once they learn how to do that, many things improve like their posture and balance.
Here are some core strengthening exercises you can try at home:
Bridging: lifting the hips as high as possible. You can alternate this a little by trying to pass a ball underneath then have it get ‘stuck’ so as the child lowers the bridge, they have to lift back up again.
Superman position: have the child lay on their stomach and using their core, life arms and legs up as if they were flying. This is pretty difficult for some so try getting them to hold it for a short time, release, and then do it again.
Knock the wall over: when children have to stand still, wait their turn, or need a break, give this exercise a try. Have the child place both hands on the wall and try to achieve a good lunge and see if they can knock it over.
Preschool children reap psychological benefits as they expand and refine their gross motor skills. Children become more self-confident when they challenge old boundaries related to their gross motor abilities and meet with success. Gaining gross motor proficiencies permits preschool children to take part in a variety of active recreational activities, which can promote psychological well-being. Core strength is necessary to develop all sorts of skills from posture, balance, endurance, coordination, and stability. All of these together create strong gross motor skills and healthy children.
These exercises were fun to introduce to the parents who joined us for the workshop at BELA and we are happy to share them with you through the blog! Your children will love trying out these activities with you. Fun , exercise, increased gross motor skills and confidence! Sounds like a win to me!
* For more great info / resources regarding gross motor skills check out the following websites: