Importance of gross motor skills for child development.

Development of motor skills is about building physical and muscle strength. Activities like, crawling, jumping, sketching, solving puzzles, picking things, dropping etcetera involve motor development of children. Motor development begins early in childhood and is categorised into gross motor development and fine motor development.

Gross motor development refers to the maturation of larger body movements like jumping and running while fine motor development refers to the maturation of skills like drawing, using a spoon, tying shoe-laces etcetera.

Roughly around age two children begin their first attempts at walking. Gross motor skills develop fairly earlier than fine motor skills. That means, children master to walk, jump and run before they master tying their shoelaces.

Activities like racing, bike riding, playing in the playground are extremely important to encourage the development of gross motor skills

Initially, gross motor skills help children develop control over their head, neck, trunk, arms wrists and fingers and simultaneously comes the control over lower extremities like legs, hips, feet.

Mastering these gross motor skills is crucial for the holistic development of a child. It vastly impacts the child’s ability to participate in various sports and other physical activities. Poor development of gross motor skills leaves the children, a sedentary lifestyle and incapable to participate in few or all sports.

This could, in turn negatively impact children’s peer relationship, often leading to social isolation and major self-esteem issues. Another important function gross motor skills perform is facilitating the learning of fine motor skills in the later years.

Gross motor skills can be categorized into 3 types-

  • Locomotor activity: It refers to children’s movement from one place to another, for example: walking, running, skipping.
  • Non-locomotor activity:  It refers to children’s movement at a stationary place, for example – twisting, twirling, bending.
  • Manipulative skills: Moving other objects in different ways like kicking, throwing, catching.

Gross motor skills are a crucial part of development in more ways than facilitating their physical development.

It helps them gain self-confidence and strength in their body. Achieving the milestones of gross motor development timely also nurtures the children’s ability to participate in more complex physical activities like playing basketball or Tennis in later years. It will help the child build endurance for strenuous and more complex physical tasks.

It will also set up a foundation for a healthy physical body. Children who are not exposed to physical activities that help build gross motor skills naturally do not participate in physical exercises.

This could ultimately lead to obesity and health issues later in teenage years affecting their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Hence, developing gross motor skills allow children to explore and function in their environment efficiently. This also facilitates their cognitive and emotional development as all the aspects of child development are interdependent.

Lagging behind in one area hinders the development of other areas as well. Being physically capable allows children to engage in a wide range of activities that could encourage building social intelligence as well.

How to make sure your child’s motor skills are developing efficiently?

As parents, your primary step should be to choose a best preschool that focuses on holistic child development. School’s curriculum should involve a significant amount of play time involving various physical activities that nurture children’s motor development.

Preschool should also be equipped well with playgrounds and tools to allow the children to participate in such activities. Their classrooms should be designed to purposefully engage children in creative activities that facilitate gross motor development of children.

Preschool teachers should regularly engage children in various activities that promote gross motor development of children.

Besides, the obvious method of engaging children in physical activity to promote their gross motor skills there are certain indirect, subtle ways child enhances his/her skills every day.

Initially, preschools encourage children to participate in elementary movements through classroom activities like carrying toys from their racks to their table, pulling a chair out to sit, manipulating certain puzzles in the process of solving them, squatting on the floor or climbing a chair to reach out to a book.

Later, they’re introduced to more complex tasks like cleaning up their lunch spaces, fetching water.

While many activities could be conducted at home by parents that can promote the development of gross motor skills, preschool plays the most important role in facilitating children with a growth promoting environment.

A high-quality preschool should have a well-designed structure with a spacious playground and classrooms equipped with toys and games that could encourage children’s motor development. Their curriculum should also be designed such that it takes into account holistic development of children.

Recently, many pre-schools in Ahmedabad have emerged with this concept where the curriculum is designed to not only encourage academic development but also their emotional, social and physical development is given equal importance.

Usha Agrawal co-founder at LittleWings, one of the leading Pre school in Ahmedabad that focuses on the holistic development of children. Her dedication towards understanding childhood development contributed immensely to providing many kids with a solid foundation in the early years.

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