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  • Sarina Shirazee

Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills are those which involve larger muscle groups and movements, including the ability to crawl, stand, walk, run, balance, and jump. Gross motor skills are important as they allow children to participate in every day functions such as walking up and down stairs, getting in and out of the car, getting dressed, climbing playgrounds, playing sport, carrying a school bag and having the confidence to play and interact with same-aged peers.⠀

Gross motor skills develop through practice and repetition. From birth, children need to be exposed to various opportunities to move freely and experiment with what their bodies can do. Infants and toddlers who are late to reach early motor milestones may go on to have difficulty with gross motor skills. ⠀

Here are a few key skills expected in early childhood:⠀

• By 18 months: Sit, crawl, walk, start to run⠀

• 18-24 months: Walk smoothly, turn corners or directions without stumbling, climb up and down furniture with minimal assistance, walk up and down stairs holding hands⠀

• 2-3 years: Run fairly well, jump once, climb stairs without support, throw and catch a large ball with arms straight, kick a ball, maintain sitting and lying on stomach to play, negotiate playgrounds⠀

• 3-4 years: Run with ease, imitate balancing on one foot, jump multiple times with feet together, pedal a small trike, climb stairs alternating feet, throw and catch a ball against their body⠀

• 4-5 years: Jump multiple times across a distance, begin to hop on one foot, balance on one foot for 3-5 seconds, climb up and down stairs alternating feet⠀

• 5-6 years: Hop on one foot several times, balance on one foot >5 seconds, balance on a wide beam, begin to skip, catch a ball with two hands in front of their body⠀

Free, unrestricted play is the best way to encourage the development of gross motor skills. ⠀

It is also important to remember that children develop at different rates and there is a range of typical development. Contact an occupational therapist if you think your child may need help with their gross motor skills.


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