Your child’s motor development can be divided into two major areas: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the use of large muscles in their arms, legs, and torso. Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles in the hands. Though both skills develop naturally as your child explores their surroundings, you can further encourage them at home and your local Montessori daycare.
Motor skills, specifically gross motor skills, can improve your child’s education in four key ways:
1. Gross motor skills are used in everyday activities
When your child moves, they use their gross motor skills. Even if they haven’t begun walking, they use these skills to raise their arms toward crib mobiles and kick their legs out. As they build strength in their legs and arms, their gross motor skills will let them manipulate objects, tinker with toys, and explore other objects.
2. Gross motor skills help to navigate surroundings
As your child grows and enrolls in preschool then elementary school, they’ll need finer control to navigate their surroundings and do assignments. Gross motor skills allow them to do everything older children and adults take for granted: walking, running, taking the stairs, and more. Delayed development of gross motor skills can impede your child’s education if they struggle to move about the classroom and complete tasks.
3. Gross motor skills build balance and coordination
Related to gross motor skills are the ability to balance, coordinate the body, and understand reaction time. Without these skills, your child might have a difficult time in gym class and on the playground. Though your child might be a few years away from having free reign of play structures, help them build their skills through play. Chaperone them while they crawl and interact with toys and sensorial materials.
By four years old, your child should be able to jump with two feet, and ride a bike by eight years old. If your child struggles with motor skills past these milestones, they might have a developmental coordination disorder. However, most children don’t have issues progressing from crawling to walking. It’s still important to actively work on these skills.
4. Gross motor skills lead to the development of fine motor skills
Gross and fine motor skills are intertwined despite relating to different muscles. Without control over their arms, your child can’t handwrite. They need to hold their arm upright and in the correct position, and they need hand-eye coordination to tie their coat buttons and shoelaces. Gross and fine motor skills can build off each other, but ultimately it is gross motor skills that serve as a foundation for the development of minute muscles.
Improve your child’s gross motor skills at home or with a Montessori daycare
Your child can strengthen their larger muscles by playing on age-appropriate play structures that encourage crawling, climbing, pushing, pulling, and holding their balance. Play is often the best motivator for daycare-aged children, next to exploration inspired by curiosity. Inspire your child at home, or enroll them in a Montessori daycare, where licensed teachers will help them develop their gross motor skills while you’re away.