Gross motor skills can be understood as the bigger movements — such as rolling over, jumping, climbing, and sitting — that use the large muscles in the arms, legs, torso, and feet; this is the simplest way of defining gross motor skills.

These skills begin developing when a baby is at the newborn stage and continue to strengthen throughout adulthood as layers of physical literacy are established. The initial process works from the neck down, beginning at the head and making its way down a child’s body until they have control over their motor functions.

Gross motor skills are not to be confused with fine motor skills. These encompass small movements such as the twiddling of thumbs or the wiggling of toes. They are crucial for vital learning activities such as handwriting and everyday life, e.g., feeding oneself.

Examples of Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills involve the more significant movement our bodies are capable of; this can be as simple as a baby sitting up to a professional athlete completing the long jump. Below are some exercises children can do to improve their gross motor skills.

We use gross motor skills every day, even when we are very young. For example, babies use gross motor skills when crawling or pulling themselves up to stand.

As we get older, the way we use gross motor skills will develop and change. Here are examples of gross motor skills that people may use every day:

  • jumping
  • balancing
  • ball skills such as throwing, catching, and kicking
  • going up and down stairs
  • riding a bike
  • climbing a ladder
  • getting out of bed
  • reaching to get something off of a shelf
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