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Why are gross motor skills important?

Updated: Apr 16

Why are they important?

Gross motor milestones are the foundation for development. The best way to think about this is to talk through and example.


Lets take sitting. Imagine you have a baby, lets call him John. John is 6 months old and is learning how to sit up on his own. First John must have strong neck muscles to hold his head up, then his tummy and back muscles need to be switched on to keep him upright. His ribcage needs to be stacked over his pelvis so he is in good alignment so his central stability system can learn how to work in a new position. John also needs to be able to use his arms and shoulder muscles and he needs to learn how to balance. At the same time he still needs to breathe well (ie not hold his breathe to get stable) and to play, - after all that is a babies job- to play! Overall its quite complex!


Once John learns how to sit he sees the world from a different position, which completely changes his view of the world and sensory experience. A wide variety of sensory experiences help develop and mature the sensory system.


But what if John misses one of the components? Maybe he is not totally symmetrical or he some of his muscles are tight. Perhaps he might learn to how to sit but maybe he is very slouched, or he might sit briefly before moving off again. Without all these components it will may be hard for John add on other skills to sitting like fine motor control, or playing using both hands or transition from sitting to hands and knees.



I hope you can see how learning to sit is foundational not only for further gross motor skills but also for speech and the development of fine motor skills.


Now lets take that a step further.



Imagine John learns how to sit but he never quite gets up straight he is always a little slouched but he is still sitting so the milestone is checked off. Then he crawls, stands up, walks, runs and jumps. John is a little boy so he is very active and doesn't ever spend much time sitting still! Which is very typical of little boys. We should not expect them to sit still.




Then John goes to school, but he struggles to sit still and listen. He has a hard time colouring in never mind trying to form his letters. When John sits he gets tired easily and slouches a lot which means his eyes are looking down at his desk and he is too busy thinking about how tired he is to listen to the teacher. Now you can imagine how school will go for John.







Perhaps if John had learned to sit well as a baby, his muscles and central stability system (core stability) would be working well and be able to support him when is he sitting at a desk then as the higher demands are placed on him like reading, writing and listening John's body and brain would be able to cope better with these demands.


This isn't always the case and there are ALWAYS a lot of factors leading into a child's behaviour but it is certainly a factor to consider.


Gross Motor Skills are the foundation for development and having efficient gross motor skills helps set your child up for success!


TAKEAWAY

  • Gross motor skills are the foundation for development

  • Work for quality of movement as well as being able to achieve the milestone.

  • Sitting still is hard! For us and our kids but its important to develop a strong central stability system to support good posture.

  • If you have concerns about your child's gross motor development be proactive. Talk to your health visitor or doctor or get in touch. When it comes to development you might regret waiting but you won't regret getting help for your child if its needed.


Got questions? email me info@movementandmilestones.com


MOVE WELL PLAY WELL

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