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10 Ways to Encourage Gross Motor Skills at the Playground | Grammar School

1. Play with your child, instead of being an on looker, be an example of what certain movements

look like.

2. Praise small accomplishments, they may not be doing the monkey bars by themselves just yet, but hanging from the bar for 5 seconds and then 10 seconds, is a place to start.kids on playground

3. Play catch, although it may seem like a simple activity, children benefit greatly from planning their movements, tracking the ball with their eyes, and the repetition the activity provides. Switch up the difficulty level if they are ready for the challenge by changing the size, weight or texture of the ball or distance between you and your child.

4. Challenge your child to an obstacle course race with the entire family.

5. Start with an activity your child is comfortable with, and encourage to expand from there. If your child enters the playground being asked to do something they are not comfortable with, they may shut down before getting anywhere.

6. Schedule play dates at the park with same age peers to encourage age appropriate skills in this setting.

7. Add “park time” into your families weekend routine. Frequent trips to a familiar park will help familiarize your child with the equipment and build endurance for gross motor activities.

8. Play “hot lava” encourage your child to navigate the park equipment without touching the ground.

9. Visit your child’s school playground on the weekend to help them practice what they are having difficulty with at recess.

10. Participate in animal walks (including bear walks, crab walks, frog jumps, etc.) to encourage strengthening, endurance and coordination.

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Gross Motor Preschool Milestones 3 years to 5 years

During the preschool years (ages 3 through 5) a child learns various new gross motor skills. These new skills are vital for playing with their peers. Each child learns these at a different rate, however the following is an general outline of the development of gross motor skills during the preschool years:preschooler jumping

Gross Motor Skills of a 3 Year Old:

  • Standing on one foot for 3 seconds
  • Walking up and down stairs without holding onto the railing, reciprocating (one foot on each step)
  • Jumps over a line
  • Jumps forwards 2 feet
  • Jumps off a step with both feet simultaneously
  • Kicking a stationary ball 6 feet forwards
  • Throwing a ball both under and over hand
  • Independently get on/off a tricycle and pedal 20 feet

Gross Motor Skills of a 4 Year Old:

  • Standing on one foot for 5 seconds
  • Standing on tiptoes for 3 seconds without moving feet
  • Jumps forward 3 feet
  • Jumps up onto a step (approximately 8 inches high) with two feet
  • Jumps over a small hurdle
  • While running, is able to alternate direction and stop easily without losing balance
  • Hops on one foot 5 times
  • Walks backwards on a line
  • Gallops 10 feet
  • Throwing ball so it hits a target from 5 feet away

Gross Motor Skills of a 5 Year Old:

  • Standing on one foot for 10 seconds
  • Standing on tiptoes without moving feet for 8 seconds
  • Mimics movements accurately
  • Skips 10 feet
  • Jumping sideways
  • Kicking a stationary ball straight for 10 feet
  • Recommended:
    • Swimming: can “doggy-paddle” 2 feet to the edge of the pool
    • Biking: can independently pedal, steer, and stop a bike with training wheels (may begin to try without training wheels)

If a child has not yet learned these skills by kindergarten, or is having trouble performing these skills, there may be a cause for concern. They may be low tone or weak in their core or extremities. If you feel that your child is delayed in their preschool gross motor skills and would like advice or help, feel free to contact us for a physical therapy evaluation.  For a complete Milestone Guide for 3 Year olds compiled by Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists, click here!

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What is Proprioception and Why is it Important?

What: Proprioception is the concept of knowing where your body is in space (body awareness) and the ability to safely maneuver around your environment. It also includes the use of heavy work activities and the ability to stimulate the joint receptors.

Why: Proprioceptive input is important for a child’s frog jumpsdevelopment because it helps them to feel a sense of self, aides in self-regulation and promotes success in both fine motor and gross motor activities. It is also important as it helps a child to be aware of their “personal space” and how to appropriately engage with their peers without overstepping their boundaries (e.g. hugging without asking) or not engaging enough (e.g. decreased eye contact).

Activities to provide proprioceptive input:

  • Wheelbarrow walks
  • Bear hugs
  • Body pillow “sandwich” (have child lay between two large body pillows and provide them with moderate squishes)
  • Frog jumps
  • Jumping on a trampoline or on a mattress
  • Pushing a heavy basket/cart (e.g. fill a laundry basket and have child push across the house)
  • Pulling a heavy wagon
  • Squeezing or rolling playdough/theraputty
  • Bouncing on a pogo stick or on a hippity hop ball
  • Climbing a rockwall
  • Monkey bars
  • Tug of war (e.g. use a towel to play tug of war with a partner using both hands; place pillows behind each child, so that if they fall or lose their balance, they can crash into the pillows)

Developmental Skills While Playing With Cars

Pediatric therapy sessions typically involve a lot of play time! Why? Children learn about their world through play and child playing with car imitation of adults, and play is much more motivating than sitting at a table completing worksheets. When a child plays with a car, here are a few of the skill areas that are targeted:

Cognition while playing with cars:

• Experiencing cause and effect relationships, such as when a car drops down a ramp

• Labeling basic parts of a car

Fine Motor or Hand Skills while playing with cars:

• Strengthing hand-eye coordination skills and improving hand dexterity while building a toy car. Consider building a visual model for your child to copy

• Improving hand coordination and hand dexterity while repairing a car using toy tools. Facilitate this by placing your hand on the child’s and physically moving his hands if necessary

• Practice using both hands simultaneously while turning a steering wheel Read more