Gross, or large, motor skills include the strength and abilities of big muscle groups such as coordination, balance and agility. Whether your young child is trying a gross motor activity at preschool or you are helping her to build this type of physical skill at home, setting goals and objectives can help to maximize the learning experience. Additionally, movement goals can help to make sure that your child meets the age appropriate markers for this area of development.
When your child begins to walk -- typically somewhere around 12 months -- he transitions from being a baby to a toddler. Setting goals and objectives for his motor development during the second year of life may include building basic skills such as walking steadily, running or jumping. For example, you may set a goal for your toddler to run from end of the backyard to the other, without falling, before he is 36 months. Another objective that you might have for your young toddler is for him to show the beginning stages of movement coordination. Actions such as kicking a ball or jumping in place require the basic coordination of large muscle groups. While he might not exhibit perfect proficiency in these actions, he should start to show these types of movements before he is out of the toddler years.
The move from the toddler to the preschool years -- between the ages of 3 and 5 -- ushers in a new sophistication in gross motor skills. While preschoolers aren't yet total masters of their movements, they can -- according the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website -- skip, hop, climb and even begin to walk up and down stairs unassisted. Goals for kids of this age often include showing more complex abilities and sports-type skills such as kicking a soccer ball, climbing up a ladder at the playground or hitting a tee ball off of a stand.
Young Grade Schoolers
Kindergartners and young elementary school aged kids have motor skills that move well beyond the basics that toddlers and preschoolers have. According to the child development pro's at PBS Parents, kids in this age group -- while still somewhat unsophisticated in their movement and agility abilities -- can move in different patterns such as zig-zag or diagonal, can combine motions and have an awareness of their bodies in space. Your goals for your child at this stage should play to the more complex motor skills. For example, your child can work to meet objectives such as throwing a ball at a target -- such as your arms -- or kicking a soccer ball into a goal.
Before you begin to worry about your young child not meeting specific gross motor goals and objectives, take a few developmental considerations into mind. While there are milestone markers that the experts use, some variation is completely normal. For example, according to research by the World Health Organization, the window for walking with assistance may vary from slightly after 8 months old to close to 18 months. Unless your child is showing absolutely no progress or is far out of sync with the expected milestones -- such as not walking by 2 years old -- you may have to adjust your goals and objectives. In the event that your child is repeatedly missing the mark or never meets a specific goal, it's key for you to consult the pediatrician or another developmental expert for advice.
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