As your child soars past their growth milestones, you may start to wonder a few things — A. How do they stop growing so quickly? They’re so cute as babies! And B. How can you help them reach their full potential?
One of the main things that your child is going to develop early on is a variety of gross motor skills. These are skills that involve the larger movements of the body and control over the limbs and torso. Such skills are developed through play and activities...meaning they're fun for both you and your child!
If your child is still learning how to crawl or walk, they’re most likely not ready for active games and coordination — and that’s okay! For the little ones that are moving and jumping, this piece should guide you on activities that help further develop motor skills.
Many parents are worried that martial arts classes encourage fighting or violence, but this isn't the case at all!
Martial arts classes that are geared toward children base themselves around strength, coordination, and steady movement—all things that your child needs to develop those strong gross motor skills!
The classes can also teach your child discipline and focus, and even provide your child with a social group, giving the added development of strong social skills.
All in all, setting your child up in a martial arts class is going to give them a life-long hobby and help them develop.
Dancing is a fun way to get those arms and legs in action.
You have options when it comes to dancing. The easiest one is making at-home dance parties a regular occurrence in your home. Who doesn't love a silly dance around the living room to get rid of excess energy?
You can also turn it into a game. When your child is doing something that they might find boring, like homework, chores, or learning activities, set a timer to go off every fifteen minutes.
When the timer rings, your child gets up for a brief dance break! This will help them focus on their work during the non-dance time by letting them get their jitters out.
If you're interested in a more structured dance environment, dance classes are another way to get children into a social group while also helping the development of their gross motor skills.
There are dance classes for all ages and skill levels. Your child will gain strength, flexibility, and the motor skills that you're looking for all in a supportive environment.
We love yoga for kids for so many reasons. While it helps your child's gross motor skills, it also helps to teach them mindfulness and full-body awareness that they're going to need as they grow.
These things will follow them into adulthood.
Yoga classes for children (like one of our personal favorites over at Yama Kids' Yoga) focus on movements that children can do, not complicated "grown-up" yoga poses. That doesn't mean that you can't get involved, though!
You can also do yoga at home. There are plenty of online resources to help you develop a practice for your child when you're unable to attend classes.
At-home obstacle courses
Obstacle courses are a great way to get your little ones moving. Not only do they help develop gross motor skills, they help them learn how to strategize, balance, and...they’re FUN!
DIY obstacle courses are a fun way to spend an afternoon. You don't need a full Ninja Warrior set up in your backyard (though that would be cool!) but a few small traffic cones, monkey bars, and a sandbox can go a long way.
Add more things to the obstacle course as the child gets older and develops more skills. Some pieces can be disassembled and others are great for your backyard playground! If they’re showing a love for jumping around, it might be time to try a parkour class!
Swimming is one of the best exercises overall, so you better believe that it's great for your child's motor skills.
Many large gyms have swimming pools that are open year-round so you don't have to wait for those hot summer months. Children who start swimming early won't have that pesky fear of water that some older ones develop, and they'll learn important skills that can keep them safe in the case of an emergency.
If you're not confident in your own ability to teach your child to swim, there are plenty of swimming classes that are intended for new swimmers! Skilled instructors and lifeguards help your children learn how to move their bodies and keep themselves afloat.
Safety and motor skills? Sign us up.
There's a sport for almost every child, and signing your child up for a sports team (or even casual sports events and playtime) is a great way to set them up for an active and healthy lifestyle.
Team sports teach your child how to work with other children and they help to develop the strength and mobility that your child will need as they grow.
Little ones can still enjoy team sports even when their gross motor skills are underdeveloped. Coaches for children are gentle and focus more on skill-building than on competition.
That said, team sports will also teach your child to fail. While that sounds negative (because no one likes failing) it’s actually an important life skill. Accepting failure encourages determination and resilience. Your child can gain so much more than what meets the eye through team sports.
Developing gross motor skills can be fun
You don't have to worry about how to help your child develop gross motor skills. Children learn through play so they'll be excited to get up and move. They won't even know they're learning!
Help your child improve their gross motor skills by signing them up for a fun class or getting active with them at home.
For more helpful blog posts on child development check out online and in-person classes and resources that we love.