Gross motor skills: what are they and what signs can you look out for in your kids

The development of gross motor skills is not only needed for physical activity and sports, but is super important for every day skills.

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Movement is so important to include in your everyday routine with your kids. The development of gross motor skills is not only needed for physical activity and sports, but is super important for every day skills. Gross motor development follows a rather predictable sequence, often referred to as motor milestones that development when babies, toddlers and kids are given opportunities to explore their environments through movement.

Gross motor skills are the large muscle movements that we use every day to do the simplest of things and require coordination of these large muscle groups. These skills are broken down into three groups; locomotor skills, object control skills and stability skills. Locomotor skills include those which transport you from A to B, such as walking and running. Object control skills, often seen as ball skills, include things such as kicking and catching a ball. Stability skills include those which help you stabilise your body, such as balancing.


“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn” – O. Fred Donaldson

The ability to perform these skills are crucial in a child’s development. They help them to perform everyday skills, such as balancing on one leg to put pants one. They also encourage engagement in physical activity which is super important and helps to develop life-long healthy habits.  

Sorting colour balls

Children with poor gross motor skills may:

  • Appear clumsy or uncoordinated
  • Have poor balance
  • Have poor body and spatial awareness
  • Avoid the playground or jungle gyms
  • Have low muscle tone
  • Struggle to sit upright for extend periods of time and begin to slouch
  • Appear to be wary of motor movement
  • Experience a delay in reaching their motor milestones
  • Spend more time on technology than playing outside

Encouraging Gross motor development:

The best and easiest way to encourage this type of development is through active play! A combination of free play and structured play really helps children to explore their environment and learn new motor patterns. Simple activities such as obstacle courses, jumping on a trampoline and dancing are fun ways to get your kids busy and build their motor skills.

If you think your child struggles with their gross motor skills and would like to know more information on how a Kinderkinetics programme can help, please feel free to pop me a message!

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