If you regard your child as clumsy, prone to losing balance, dropping things or tumbling over things, etc, your child needs to work on his/her gross motor skills.
Now, most children practice these skills on the playground while they jump, climb the jungle gym, swing on the swings and slide. However, there are many children nowadays who have grown up on their iPads and tablets instead of outdoors. Not only do many of these children have issues with gross motor skills, they also begin to avoid outdoor activities.
Here are some activities you can do to improve gross motor skills:
- Ball clay: Start with a larger ball and then proceed to smaller and smaller ones. Start with catch-catch, toss-clap-catch, bouncing the ball with alternating hands, throw in a basket/at a target, etc. These exercise strengthens hand muscles but also improves hand-eye coordination and muscle control.
- Jumping: Practice jumping so that both feet land on the ground at the same time. Have them jump over low obstacles, into hoops, long jumps, high jumps, or even repeatedly on a trampoline (if you have one at home). Jumping helps tone muscles, improves body control and muscle coordination.
- Hopping and one-foot balancing: Play hopscotch with your child or have your children participate in a hopping race. See how long they can stand on one foot and then try on the other foot. Both these exercises require strong muscles, good muscle control and promote balance. Hopping also strengthens bones.
- Wheelbarrow walking: Have your child walk on his/her hands while you hold up their feet like in a wheelbarrow. Have them walk about ten steps up and down. This strengthens the muscles in the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. It eventually will boil down to improving fine motor skills and hand writing as well.
- Bucket catch: Have your child hold a bucket with two hands and throw a ball at him/her. They have to catch the ball in the bucket. This game is recommended for children who have trouble using both hands at once.
We often take it for granted that these important muscles will develop on their own, but nowadays our children’s lives have become quite sedate thanks to the TV, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Once you notice that your child is struggling in physical activities, it is never too late to change gears and focus on improving their motor skills. Disguise these exercises as fun games. Involve the family.
When your child’s gross motor skills improve, you will find that your child will be able to focus better, be more interested in physical games and exercise, will be more balanced and might even show an improvement in handwriting and art.