originally published on Wolf+Friends
Gross motor skills are those activities that use large muscle groups: from walking, to running, to jumping and skipping, and much more! All children are developing the control, strength, and endurance needed to coordinate these movements. As your child gets older, they develop more complex gross motor skills with objects so eventually they can participate in sports like soccer, basketball, hockey, or gymnastics. Kids who are moving and playing are also engaging with their peers in games like chase, tag, and hide-and-seek, so gross motor play and social-emotional development go hand-in-hand throughout childhood. If your child is struggling to keep up physically, chances are that they are also having trouble staying within those play schemes with friends on the move. Keeping in mind that not all children develop these skills along the same timeline, you can find skill-minded fun to involve large muscle groups, no matter where your child is on this path to development.
Kids in elementary school are expected to have developed basic gross motor skills and start to add complexity to their activities. Games offer social, emotional, and endurance challenges that assume your child can run, jump, catch, and throw while also remembering rules and problem-solving. This is when gross motor play involves the most social skill sophistication.
Relay games like “wheelbarrow race” challenge cooperative skills with peers and can include basic household objects or nothing at all except your own body!
Bring that playground ball back out for a game of kickball, gladiator dodge-ball, or keep-away tag! Bring a beach ball in the pool for the same keep away game or set up a makeshift hula hoop “basket” and see who can score the most points.
Jump roping for older kids is a challenge of timing and coordination - have friends swing each end of the rope “double dutch” style, or jump on your own - both are great activities to build gross motor skills!
Bike riding develops coordination, balance skills, endurance, and core strength. Be sure to read our play tips on choosing the right bike or trike for your child.