Helping your little learners to build endurance, strength, resilience, control, independence, imagination and much more.
Within the first 18 months of a child’s life there is a huge emphasis on the development of essential gross motor skills – from supporting their own heads to taking those momentous first steps. These skills mark notable milestones which are hugely celebrated by parents and carers.
As children grow, they continue to discover and refine these whole-body movements through their play and it’s essential that this is embraced and encouraged. In this article our early years buyer Nicola shares some advice on developing gross motor skills, exploring the impact that they have on other areas of a child’s development.
Children will flourish in environments with lots of opportunities to learn and test new skills, especially when it comes to physical development. Working to achieve simple activities will help them build resilience as they practice, and also give them a huge boost of self-confidence when they succeed, preparing them to tackle any new challenges that come their way.
Help them do it on their own
A child’s desire to become more independent is a natural part of growing up – whether it’s feeding themselves, getting dressed or climbing in and out of bed. The ability to achieve many of these tasks relies on coordination, body awareness and strength; skills which can all be developed and refined through simple gross motor skill activities.
Grow their imaginations
Imaginative play is a fantastic tool for encouraging less enthusiastic children to practice big movements, without them even really realising they are doing it. By asking them to act like different animals, or transporting them to a fantasy world, you will help them develop new physical skills, while also building their imaginations and creativity.
Give them control
Fine motor skills such as painting or handwriting can only truly be developed when children have the control to hold themselves in a certain posture and concentrate. Engaging children in games that use balance and coordination can really help them learn to take control of their body movements.
Sports and games are great ways to develop both physical and social skills. Through working together as a team to achieve a goal, children will learn how to show consideration and respect for others. It will also enable them to get to grips with managing their emotions whether they win or lose.
Harness their energy
Children are full of energy, usually from the minute they get up in the morning. By harnessing this energy and using it positively for physical activities, you can improve their behaviour and phycological wellbeing. A positive start with physical activities also generally leads to children being more active as they grow older, which has huge health benefits.
Keep them safe
While it’s important to challenge children with activities, it is equally if not more important to keep them safe. By breaking more demanding activities into smaller steps you can control how far you stretch them, and ensure that less confident children are not overwhelmed. In the long run, children who are fit and strong are a lot less likely to injure themselves due to residual muscle tension which makes their reactions quicker.
Prepare them for school
Starting school is both physically and mentally exhausting for a young child – they are constantly learning and exploring. By gradually building the intensity and duration of physical activities when children are young, you can help them build the endurance they need to cope with bigger and more
demanding activities, such as starting school.