I once attended a workshop about assessment of children in schools and the professor said something that was quite worrying. She told us that in general children in this part of the world fell behind in terms of gross motor skills. Sounds like a complicated word? Well let me explain. Motor skills refers to abilities that do with movement. There are two main categories: gross and fine.
Fine motor skills involve detailed movement such as writing and manipulation of small objects such as blocks, etc. Nurseries here tend to concentrate on these skills and children, in general, don’t have a problem. Gross motor skills are bigger movements such as running, jumping, hopping, etc, that require balance and coordination. So why are children lacking in these areas when all they seem to do is run and play?
Well as I mentioned earlier nurseries tend to concentrate on fine motor skills because this is what parents value more. I have often heard from teachers that unless they send homework with the children the parents will complain. It is normal that parents want to feel that their children are learning something especially with the amount they have to pay for any decent nursery or school these days. What isn’t explained to parents is that ‘playing’ is as important for their development as writing.
So how do you help improve your children’s motor skills? You can try creating games that involve either running or climbing. If it’s difficult to find the space then maybe you can ‘build’ something temporary in their room out of the furniture and let them play with it, but make sure it’s safe and stable and make sure all activities are supervised.
You can also try playing ball games but make sure that the ball is not so small it stimulates fine motor movement. At the same time the ball shouldn’t be so big the children have trouble holding it or picking it up because this can make them frustrated.
You could also make the effort to get out of town as often as possible somewhere that gives the children space to move freely. You can give them an hour in the house where they can run around WITHOUT you screaming at them. These are just a few ideas but I just wanted to highlight the importance of this type of play in the child’s development. If nothing else it will probably help you get fitter too.