It’s easy and fun to “teach” gross motor skills at home! Simple fun and games like these are important and practical for your preschooler.
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How to Teach Your Child Gross Motor Skills at Home
Did you know that your child should be able to swing by themselves by the age of 4 or 5? Or that they should be able to balance on 1 foot for 8-10 seconds? Or that they should be able to jump rope? These are all gross motor skills that will develop as a child grows. However, we may find ourselves taking the development of motor skills for granted. Sure, children will naturally develop most of these skills without direct instruction. But there are things we can do to set our kids up for success in this area. We can create opportunities for strengthening their gross motor skills in everyday life at home.
Gross motor skills have to do with the large muscles of the body. Think: running, jumping, climbing, etc. Strong gross motor skills better allow kids to access learning opportunities and provide a foundation for future skills. Since it is so crucial, let’s look at some ways we can strengthen the gross motor skills of our preschool kiddos.
- Play outside! -This is super simple but very important for developing gross motor skills. There are so many things for kids to do in nature, like climbing trees and rocks, rolling down hills, taking walks and running.
- Ride-on toys– Let kids learn to ride tricycles, scooters, and bikes. These are great tools for strengthening motor skills!
- Hopscotch– Use sidewalk chalk to draw a hopscotch game.
- Play ball games– Encourage kids to play soccer or basketball. Even if kids don’t “play by the rules” or aren’t that good at them yet, let them explore the techniques of kicking, throwing, etc.
- Play tag– Kids love this timeless game! Get them running around outside and building motor skills.
- Go to a park– This is pretty obvious, but shouldn’t be overlooked- there are lots of skills that kids work on when playing on playground equipment.
- Target practice– Set up a target and give kids a small ball to throw at it. See how close to the bullseye they can get!
- Jump rope– Let kids experiment with a jump rope, even if they don’t master it yet.
- Move like an animal– Have kids walk like various animals. You can call out an animal and see if they can move like that animal.
- Freeze dance– This fun activity helps kids gain control over the movements and also practices their listening skills! Play music and then pause it a random times. Kids must freeze when the music stops.
- Yoga– Kids will enjoy the challenge of doing simple yoga moves. There are lots of kids’ yoga videos on YouTube.
- Obstacle courses– These can be fun! Create an obstacle course from one area of your house to another. Kids must travel there by crawling, walking, or jogging while avoiding the obstacles. If they accidentally touch something, they have to go back to the beginning and try again.
- Create a path– Kind of the opposite of an obstacle course, have kids lay down pillows or blankets to create a path. They must then hop from pillow to pillow to get to their destination.
- Walk the line– Place tape on the floor in a line and see if kids can walk on it, without stepping off. Works on balance and coordination.
- Letters and movement– Place cards with individual letters on the floor. Call out a letter and have kids jump to the correct letter. This works on several skills at once!
- Make forts– Let kids build a fort in their room with pillow, blankets, and other household items. Once built, the fort offers lots of opportunities for the kids to crawl, climb, and use their imaginations!
- Paper plate skates– Put a paper plate under each foot and let kids slide around on the kitchen floor (or carpet).
Doing activities that strengthen gross motor skills is actually very easy. You are probably doing some of them already! With just a little extra attention, we can make sure kids are getting the opportunities to grow that they need. And the bonus is, you will BOTH have fun doing them together! So, let’s get moving!
- Cosmic Kids Yoga– Find a large collection of cute kids’ yoga workouts, most of which tell a story or have a theme.
- From Head to Toe– A classic Eric Carle book that will have kids up and making the motions of the animals in the book. A good one for gross motor skills.
- Barnyard Dance!– Get kids dancing in this fun book. Kids will be stomping, clapping and moving along with the animals. These kinds of books help make kids active participants in the story, not just listeners.
- Stepping Balance Buckets– These look fun for creating different challenges for kids inside or outside. Kids practice balancing and moving from bucket to bucket.
- Gross Motor Exercise Cards– Use these cards that feature different movements to play games, have contests, and more. Each card has written instructions as well as pictures. There are 3 challenge levels. Kids will love getting active!
- Colorful Scarves- These scarves are great for getting kids involved in movement. Have them use them to dance to songs or practice tossing them in the air. Also can reinforce color recognition or counting skills.