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Gross Motor Skills


Baby boy learning to walk on grass
David Jakle/Image Source/Getty Images
Definition: Gross motor skills are tasks that utilize the gross or large muscles of the body like those in the arms, legs and core. Toddlers around a year of age are usually able to perform gross motor skills like crawling, pulling up to a stand, cruising furniture, walking and waving. Coordination between the upper and lower body is not very developed at this point.

As a child gets closer to 2 years of age, gross motor skill increases to include tasks like bending over to pick up a toy, running, climbing steps and kicking or throwing a ball. Closer to 3 and 4 years of age, children begin to master gross motor skills like jumping (both in place and forward) or balancing on one foot and skills like climbing stairs and ball throwing show marked improvements.

You can encourage your child's development in this area by offering plenty of opportunity to practice. Regularly plan things like these outdoor physical activities or these indoor activities for your child. Purchase a set of small balls or a basketball hoop, show your child how to use them and then allow him to play with them freely.

In addition, you should try to avoid unwittingly doing things that might hinder gross motor development. For instance, if you carry your child frequently or have him in the stroller, instead work on letting him practice his walking skills. You can take him out of the stroller for a little bit and he can hold on the the side for balance. Then when it's time to cross the street or he's tired, he can go back in the stroller.

Also Known As: large motor skills
My son's gross motor skills have increased quite a lot in just a year. At first he could barely walk and now he's running all over the place.

Readers Respond: Gross Motor Activities

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