About Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills are actions and movements of the larger muscles that enable abilities such as walking, sitting up, crawling, kicking, jumping, etc. These skills are important for any child to become mobile and self-sufficient in their movements and every day activities. A child needs both their Gross motor skills and Fine motor skills to effectively do things on their own, but Gross motor comes before Fine motor. This means that the child when young will be able to move their arm before they can grasp things with their hands.
Gross motor skills encompass:
• Balance, the ability to remain centered
• Crossing the mid-line
• Awareness of the right and left sides of the body
• Synchronization of major muscle groups
• Awareness of the body in space and in relation to people or objects
Problems with Gross Motor
Muscle tone plays a big role in a child’s gross motor development, and without proper muscle tone or low muscle tone (Hypotonia), gross motor development is affected adversely. Without Gross motor development, a child will not be able to play or interact with their environment in a self sufficient manner. Children who do not have adequate gross motor skills are often also lacking in their Fine motor skills and thus require help for both. A child might not be able to sit down and use their hands to tie their shoes without their motor skills, or be able to play a game with peers. Certain signs that a child has problem with their gross motor skills include: appears clumsy and awkward, cannot keep upright posture, cannot generalize a skill such as catching various size balls, has difficulties with ADLs (activities of daily living), has low stamina for physical sports or activities, and avoiding physical activity altogether.
Treating poor Gross Motor development
There are many ways to treat poor gross motor development and most of those ways involve play of some sort. Play is one of the best ways for a child to develop their gross motor skills, because play taps directly into the child’s developing nature in a natural, fun, and interactive way. Playing can encompass sports related activities such as throwing, hitting, catching, or kicking a ball, or can include other spatial related games like hopscotch or jump rope. Simon says can be used awareness of the body in space as well as praxis (movement planning). Playing on the playground is an important part of treating any gross motor deficiencies since it offers a wide variety of activities for a child to do. At the playground children can climb and swing, which use many of the major muscle groups and directly increase balance. Outside of games and play at home or at school, a child can be taken to an occupational therapist that will have many programs to help develop his or her gross motor skills. A physical therapist can also be seen if the child has Hypotonia or low muscle strength.