Gross Motor Skills are the abilities needed to control the large muscles of the body for walking, running, bike riding, and other activities. In almost every case, children who have an imbalance in their brain and who have some learning or behavioral issue, will also have a poorly coordinated motor system.
Difficulty riding a bike, catching a ball, or having no interest in sports at all can be common signs of a gross motor delay. The following games and activities will help to improve balance and stability and increase muscle tone thereby strengthening a child’s gross motor skills.
Hiking Uneven Terrain
Climbing a hill or hiking a rocky path will help to improve balance and increase muscle tone. Hopping rocks and exploring nature increase physical strength and endurance and also offer a great sensory opportunity.
Squatting to draw on the sidewalk helps to build core strength and encourages your child to balance as they attempt to move with the chalk. This activity also leads to games like hopscotch which offer further opportunity to develop gross motor skills.
Hula Hoops and Jump Ropes
Activities and games with repetitive movement patterns are ideal for stimulating the brain and building gross motor skills. Hula hooping and jump roping are fun ways for kids to not only develop motor skills but also connect with other children socially.
A childhood rite of passage, bike riding is the ultimate test of balance and coordination. Children who struggle with balance issues are often reluctant to learn how to ride a bike. Taking the extra time to learn to ride will not only offer physical health benefits but will also help to improve self esteem.
Good for physical, social, and cognitive development, the back and forth motion of the swing can also be relaxing and used in therapeutic situations. Through the act of swinging, gross motor skills, including balance and coordination are improved, as they run and jump into swings, push others, develop pumping motions, and jump out of the swings.
Freestyle dancing can be a fun and unstructured way to move the body and enhance gross motor skill development. Dancing as a physical activity not only builds endurance but is also a great stress reducer. Integrating music into a gross motor activity is also a great way to further stimulate the brain!
The most important thing you can do is to give children the time, space, and opportunity to move. If you suspect a child has a problem with certain skills, the first thing to do is ensure he gets more practice. If a problem persists, it may be a more serious motor control issue and should be evaluated by a professional.
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