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Gross Motor Skills


Gross motor skills are the abilities to use the larger muscles in the body to execute big movements such as running, hopping, jumping, throwing, catching and kicking. The purpose of these skills is to promote muscle strength, develop agility and perceptual skills needed for learning.

Gross motor skills are usually acquired during the first few years as part of a child's motor development. At the age of two, almost all children are able to stand up, walk, run and climb stairs. As a child grows older, these skills are built upon, improved and become better controlled. This refinement continues throughout most of the individual's years of development into adulthood.

These skills develop in a head-to-toe order. Normally head control will come first, followed by trunk stability, crawling, standing and eventually walking. This then becomes the basis for running, jumping and the range of activities that develop throughout childhood.

  • Balance
  • Body awareness
  • Motor planning
  • Eye-hand co-ordination
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Muscle coordination
  • Crossing mid line

Gross motor skills are not just about athletic ability; these core skills can influence a child’s ability to write well, read well, to develop foundation skills for maths and even to concentrate well in the classroom. Competent gross motor skills also increase a child’s confidence and improve their self-image.

Things to look out for include

  • Difficulty throwing and catching a ball
  • Flinching or other responses when catching a ball
  • Fear response to gross motor activities
  • Level of avoidance or motivation to gross motor activities
  • Difficulty co-ordinating body side
  • Balance problems when hopping, jumping skipping or running
  • Balance problems in gymnastics
  • Balance problems when riding a bike

We have also provided several useful links to external websites that may give you additional information. You can access them from our Resources page.

Evaluation by an Occupational Therapist can determine how severe the problem is and provide therapy to improve your child's gross motor skills.

If your child has gross motor weaknesses that you believe may affect his wellbeing or his education you can contact us to discuss what you should do and we can work together to find the best way of helping your child. Follow Contact from the menu above.


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