Early intervention matters: Gross motor skills

Welcome to my second blog in the series “Early intervention matters”. In this blog I look at the importance of gross motor skills and how to ensure children are meeting the required milestones.

imgresMany children in school have poor gross motor skills. Children today, are not engaging in as much outside play compared to twenty years ago. They are not given the same opportunities that we were given to develop gross motor skills. It is quite scary that many children in Kindergarten are unable to catch a ball, balance on one foot or walk up and down stairs confidently.

Even though children may have underdeveloped gross motor skills due to lack of experience, there are many children that have underdeveloped gross motor skills due to a muscle condition. It is important to have an assessment with a paediatric physiotherapist if you or your child’s teacher are concerned with their gross motor skills.

imgres-2According to “Therapies for Kids” Paediatric Physiotherapists are movement specialists for babies, children and adolescents. It is a clinical area of physiotherapy that aims to improve a child’s movement abilities through the use of methods such as movement training, strengthening, exercise, stretching, adapted equipment, motor learning and play as well as education.

Should you be worried about your child?

Below is a list of gross motor skills that children of a particular age should achieve before starting school. If your child is unable to perform any of these skills by the end of their first year of school you should see a paediatric physiotherapist to check that there are no developmental concerns.

3 year olds

  • able to climb jungle gyms and ladders
  • walks up and down stairs with alternating feet
  • catches an object by using their body
  • able to walk on their tip toes
  • able to pedal on a tricycle
  • stand on one foot
  • jump with two feet
  • walks forward and backwards on a line

4 year olds

  • stands on one foot for at least 5 seconds
  • able to hop on one foot at least 3 times
  • jumps over an object and lands with 2 feet
  • runs around obstacles
  • easily catch, bounce, throw and kick a ball
  • get dressed with little assistance
  • running is more controlled (stop and start on demand)

5 year olds

  • walk up and down stairs while holding something
  • hangs from a bar for 5 seconds
  • skips on alternate feet
  • jump over a skipping rope
  • do somersaults
  • walk on a balance beam
  • catches a small ball with hands only

imgres-1Children need many opportunities to develop their gross motor skills. This can be done through organised, structured play like team sports or unstructured play like climbing playground equipment or a tree. Parents will need to realise that there is always a chance that your child will get hurt while playing, but underdeveloped gross motor skills will certainly increase the chance of your child having a more serious injury in their future.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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