Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are those that involve using the larger muscles of the body. Examples of gross motor skills include running, jumping, walking and sitting. Gross motor skills can also include objects, such as ball skills, bike riding and dressing. Gross motor skills are foundational for activities of daily living skills. Gross motor skills involve other components to ensure success in the activity. The components include skills such as balance, coordination, hand-eye coordination, endurance, strength, body awareness, crossing the midline, muscle tone, planning and sensory processing.  For example, for dressing, you would need to be able to balance when putting on pants as well as have the endurance for standing and the strength to pull the pants up. 

Gross motor skills are also important for the participation in fine motor skills (skills involving hands and fingers). For example, for handwriting, we need to be able to sit for long durations (endurance) as well as have appropriate shoulder stability and balance. Therefore, gross motor skills play a role in attention, learning, academic success and skills of independence. 

Difficulties in gross motor skills can present in the following ways: 

  • Being ‘clumsy’ or ‘reckless’
  • Avoiding physical games and sports
  • Preference to be sedimentary and play sedentary games
  • Fatigue that seems unusual as compared to peers
  • Delays in developmental milestones e.g. walking
  • Poor posture when sitting e.g. slouching and constantly shifting on chair
  • Difficulties in multiple steps e.g. dressing
  • May seem to be less physically skillful than their peers
  • ‘Slower’ at physical skills than other children e.g. running 

How can our Occupational Therapists help? 

  • OTs can assess your child’s gross motor skills
  • They are able to engage the child in activities to promote gross motor skills
  • OTs may work on underlying skills and/or the activity as a whole to promote skill acquisition
  • Provide recommendations for ongoing support