Gross motor skills are skills that involve the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk such as sitting, walking and running. They also include higher level skills such as climbing, skipping, and throwing and catching a ball.
When a child’s gross motor development is delayed, physical therapy is often prescribed to help a child work towards gaining gross motor skills. A physical therapist works on an array of foundational skills to help a child maximize his or her gross motor potential including:
Here are five gross motor activities that will keep your child engaged and progressing toward the goals you and your physical therapist have set.
Simon Says is a fun way to help your child improve body awareness and movement planning. Start by having your child point to specific body parts and imitate body poses that you demonstrate. Once your child is able to imitate your modeled direction, increase the challenge by just saying the action you want your child to execute.
Catch is a time-tested tradition and also a great way to work on gross motor skills . Start with larger balls and gradually make them smaller as your child’s skill level increases. Use balloons, deflated beach balls, or soft, spongy balls for children who are still mastering catching – they move slower and are more forgiving if a catch is missed. If your child picks up the catching and throwing movements quickly, consider increasing the challenge by having them stand on a squishy surface (pillow, couch cushion) or on one leg while playing.
Dancing is a way to work on gross motor skills while expressing freedom and creativity and teaching a sense of rhythm at the same time. Choose songs that you know your child will enjoy and that include specific movements, like “I’m a Little Teapot” and the “Hokey Pokey.” Dancing will help develop balance, coordination, sensory processing, motor learning and planning and body awareness.
Walk like a bear on all fours to the bathtub. Crabwalk to your bed. Wheelbarrow walk to the car. Animal walks are a great way to develop upper body strength, body awareness and overall coordination.
Whether in the house or outside, setting up a small obstacle course with objects found around the house is a great way to build several gross motor skills into one activity. Pillows make great stepping stones, tunnels can be found rather inexpensively on Amazon, and old pieces of wood make excellent balance beams. You can make the course as basic or as complex as your child can handle, and you always have the option of changing it to add variety and greater challenge.
At NAPA Center, we believe in creating individualized programs that address every child’s specific needs across a range of different therapies. Every child is unique, which means implementing unique therapy programs is the only way to help them truly reach their full potential. Contact us today to learn more about our process and our track record of results.