What are gross motor skills?

Gross motor (physical) skills are those which require whole body movement and which involve the large (core stabilising) muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as standing, walking, running, and sitting upright. It also includes eye-hand coordination skills such as ball skills (throwing, catching, kicking).

Why are gross motor skills important?

Gross motor skills are important to enable children to perform every day functions, such as walking, running, skipping, as well as playground skills (e.g. climbing) and sporting skills (e.g. catching, throwing and hitting a ball with a bat). These are crucial for everyday self care skills like dressing (where you need to be able to stand on one leg to put your leg into a pant leg without falling over).

Gross motor abilities also have an influence on other everyday functions. For example, a child’s ability to maintain table top posture (upper body support) will affect their ability to participate in fine motor skills (e.g. writing, drawing and cutting) and sitting upright to attend to class instruction, which then impacts on their academic learning. Gross motor skills impact on your endurance to cope with a full day of school (siting upright at a desk, moving between classrooms, carrying your heavy school bag).

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