Parents in the lockdown are the real MVP’s! homeschooling, working from home, being domestic workers, gardeners and child entertainer (babysitting my mom’s grandchild has been really hard). These last 50 days have been stressful on us all, but also has been rewarding in the sense that we were really forced to sit down with our children and bond. With this, we have been receiving an influx of questions around development and childhood learning styles.
In this article, I hope to highlight the importance of the most overlooked skill set, especially during the lockdown, when we can’t go outside!
Gross motor skills, or physical skills, require whole body movement and involve your core stabilizing muscles which you use to perform everyday tasks like standing, walking, running and jumping. This also includes hand-eye coordination skills, like throwing and catching a ball.
These skills are important for all round functioning in everyday personal care tasks like dressing, where you have to stand on one leg to put your pants on. Then there are the more commonly known skills, like developing playground and sports skills, for example, running, climbing, jumping and hitting a ball with a bat. Inevitably, good gross motor skills would promote your child’s self-esteem because they feel matched to their peers.
These skills also aid in school performance. But how? Good gross motor integration is important for maintaining theirs, and your, posture while sitting at a table. The stabilizing muscles will hold your body up, freeing your shoulders and arms to perform a table top activity, and in children, affects their handwriting skills.
Yes, its all integrated. So how much time does my child need to engage in gross motor play? I recommend 3-6 hours a day. But repeat after me…
Your child’s schedule is pretty full of a new balance of school and play and adjusting to home schooling is difficult enough. They physically cannot cope with schoolwork if you have made them run for 4 hours straight.. I would suggest scheduling two to three gross motor play ‘bursts’ in a day where you also get up from your home office and get more involved. You will clock in on some family time, bonding and exercise time.
So how would I know if my child has difficulty with gross motor skills and when do I contact an OT?
My top 10 favorite activities to try for gross motor skills: