Gross motor skills are the movements of the large muscles of the body. Children learn new gross motor skills by practicing them until the skill is mastered, and can be seen in school readiness activities such as:
- Catching and kicking balls
- Ball games
Because gross motor skills are so obvious, they tend to be the skills that we as parents will notice first if they are not quite right. Concerns often exist about sending a child to school with gross motor difficulty, as gross motor skills can make up so much of a child's school day.
Good gross motor skills are essential, because the body develops from large moments such as control of the arms and the legs, to small, isolated movements that include the hands and fingers. Without reasonable gross motor control, it can be difficult for children to move onto developing the fine motor skills that are so essential to starting school.
Gross motor skills start to develop right at birth, with trunk and head control and keep developing at a rapid pace right up until we are around the ages of 6 and 7.
A child's ability to perform motor skills depends on a number of factors, including muscle strength and coordination, and flexibility. Sometimes problems with low muscle tone and balance can affect the development of gross motor skills. Flat feet and hyper-extensive joints can cause awkwardness in motor movements. Poor motor planning may lead to difficulties in learning certain skills, such as throwing and catching a ball. With some of the sensory defensiveness we see in children, gross motor movements may be inhibited by a reluctance to catch a ball, focus on a target, or other sports related skills. Balance problems may cause riding a two-wheel bike to be more difficult, or climbing over a climbing frame seem almost impossible.
Children with gross motor difficulties often need a hand to break the activities, or games, into small achievable steps. The Get Ready for School Program does just this and over 10 days helps the gross motor muscle groups through exercises, posture strategies and balance activities that are easy and quick to do at home.
The Get Ready for School team recognizes that gross motor activities should be geared to the abilities of your child, rather than having your child adapt to the game or activity. We provide ideas and direction for adaptation that are often necessary when planning a gross motor activity. Some suggested adaptations that you can use as a parent include:
- Using larger equipment
- Changing the rules
- Shortening the activity
- Providing frequent rest breaks
- Simplifying the instructions
- Positively reinforcing your child for a job well done
The Get Ready for School team know that learning is so much easier when it is fun, this is why the program is packed with loads of fun, simple and quick gross motor activities that will help your child to develop the skills that they need to succeed at school.