As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I consider myself to be an expert in all things development! Or more so, an expert in all the things that children need to do in their everyday lives at home, school or on the playground. A big part of that is moving through the environment (gross motor skills). Strong gross motor skills lay the foundation for posture, coordination, attention, strength, vision, fine motor, sensory… well, just about everything!
My top 3 Real Life activities to develop gross motor skills (and make memories!)
Ball Skills –
Ball skills incorporate so many skills in one activity: balance, strength, agility, visual motor, bi-manual coordination, core strength and more! Here are some tried and true guidelines for ball skills. Start with a big ball at a close distance to the target then increase the distance. Once this is mastered then move on to a smaller ball at a close distance to the target. Start with a stable target then move to a moving target.
Activities to try at home: bounce a ball against the wall and catch it, throw the ball at a sticker on the wall then catch it. Do these over and over so your little one can practice success before you move on to a moving target.
Obstacle Courses –
Ahh, the obstacle course! This is a blank slate with endless development opportunities. From simple to complex anything goes! Start simple and then build on the sequence and the length.
Activities to try at home: hopping on 3 sofa cushions on the floor, walking around each cushion to get from point A to B.
Jumping is the culmination of stellar gross motor skills. Children need strength, agility, power, balance, coordination and so much more to complete this simple but important skill. When it comes to jumping start with both feet in the same spot, move on to jumping to a specific spot (forward, sideways, backward), and then different levels. Eventually, your little one will move on to jumping on one foot.
Activities to try at home: With a hula hoop, chalk outline, or painter’s tape on the floor have your little one jump in place inside the circle. You can sing songs, count, or practice spelling words. Next move on to jumping in and out of the circle. This is a great time to incorporate “over,” “next to,” “left” and “right.”
As always keep it fun and silly while you plan for success in each of these areas!
Want more OT ideas to try at home with your child? Check out my recent post about fine motor skills development!