Gross motor (physical) skills are those which require whole body movement and which involve the large (core stabilizing) muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as standing and walking, running and jumping, and sitting upright at the table. They also includes eye-hand coordination skills such as ball skills (throwing, catching, kicking) as well as riding a bike or a scooter and swimming.
When we all develop, we develop in a cephalo-caudal pattern, meaning from head to toe. We develop from upper trunk to mid trunk to lower trunk. The Gross Motor Milestones can be categorized into four positions:
Each child develops differently, some children may even miss certain milestones. For example, some children skip crawling on all four and go right ahead to walking with support. If your child does not receive a milestone within 3-4 months, then you may want to meet with a pediatrician and have a referral sent for physical therapy.
A physical therapist is a movement specialist who can help facilitate your child to gain the muscular strength, coordination, spatial awareness and movement to achieve gross motor milestones.
What are the building blocks necessary to develop gross motor skills?
Muscular strength: The ability to exert force against resistance.
Muscular endurance: The ability of a muscle or group of muscles to exert force repeatedly against resistance.
Motor (muscle) planning: The ability to move the body with appropriate sequencing and timing to perform bodily movements with refined control.
Motor learning: A change in motor (muscle) behavior resulting from practice or past experience.
Postural control: The ability to stabilize the trunk and neck to enable coordination of other limbs. Sensory processing: Accurate registration, interpretation and response to sensory stimulation in the environment and one’s own body.
Body awareness: Knowing body parts and understanding the body’s movement in space in relation to other limbs and objects.
Balance: The ability to maintain position whether that is static, dynamic (moving) or rotational.
Coordination: Ability to integrate multiple movements into efficient movement.
Proprioception: This is information that the brain receives from our muscles and joints to make us aware of body position and body movement.