Gross motor skills mark some of the major milestones in your child's life. Learning to use their legs, arms, torsos and feet in unison leads to independence in children. And no matter how much you try not to, parents are always comparing each others kids -- usually the main topic of conversation at the park. But even if your little guy is rocking out, hitting every motor skill on point, and unusually early, remember that all kids develop differently. Likewise, remember this if he falls behind in one or two areas. Of course you want to brag about how well your little stinker is doing, but choose your words wisely -- you don't want to come off as a "know it all, my kid is better than yours" mom.
By the time your child is a toddler, he should have mastered holding his head up, sitting, crawling and walking. By developing these muscles, he is building up to do things on a grander scale. As a 2- to 3-year-old toddler, he should be working on running, skipping with one leading foot, hopping, balancing, riding a trike, walking up and down the stairs, climbing, sliding and jumping. You can help your little guy master these skills by encouraging him to walk and run on different surfaces such as sand and grass, giving him free reign to climb on an age-appropriate playground.
Your preschooler should have the hang of advanced movements by now, and is most likely running circles around you. That endless stream of energy can be put to good use! Your 3- to 4-year-old toddler should be able to run obstacles, ride a tricycle, hop, walk a line and use a slide all by herself. Work with your 4- to 5-year-old preschooler and help him develop and master these skills: walk a balance beam forwards and backwards, do a somersault, balance on one foot for eight to 10 seconds, skip with alternating feet, jump rope, throw a ball to hit a target, swing and pump, hop on one foot, climb (such as a ladder on the playground) and jump backwards.
Games and Activities
Games and activities can help your child work on his gross motor skills. It will also keep him (and you) on your toes. Play games like the run-around. Tell your kiddo to “run to the big tree, run all the way around and come back,” or “hop from the playroom to the kitchen and come back.” Play basketball using any ball and hoop, such as a trash can, laundry basket or toy box. Take turns shooting the ball in the hoop from whatever distance you and your tot choose. Make it a fun game though, not for points. Play Follow the Leader and take turns being the leader. Give directions such as “hop on one foot” or “skip, hop, then walk backwards.” You can even play games like these when doing chores around the house, making it a fun way to clean up!
When to Worry
Kids develop at different rates, and if your tot is falling behind in one gross motor skill, it is usually not a cause for concern. However, if you are uncertain, raise the issue with your pediatrician. Be on alert if your child walks funny, acts unusually clumsy, complains of pain or displays a regression of skills.