When tiny toddlers make that astounding transformation into preschool children, parents may wonder what became of their toddler’s round tummy and chubby, adorable little legs. The answer can be found in the preschool child’s gross motor development, which enables your child to utilize the large groups of muscles in her arms and legs. Gross motor skills include movement, like running, dancing or jumping, and manipulation, such as throwing, catching and kicking. Gross motor competency can help your preschool child to move more easily and avoid developmental delays, have confidence in her abilities and can give her health benefits as she stays active.
Prevent Developmental Delays
Preschool development offers a distinctive window of opportunity for acquiring and practicing gross motor skills. Some children entering kindergarten may exhibit developmental delays in gross motor skills if they do not have sufficient opportunities to learn and practice these active skills during early childhood, according the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Fortunately, severe gross motor delays are uncommon without other medical reasons, but some preschool children never acquire proficiency in this area without help. Preschool children typically enjoy channeling energy into movement, and are usually successful in performing gross motor movements when they have an adult coaching them and adequate opportunities to practice activities such as skipping, hopping or catching a ball.
Promote Psychological Health
Preschool children reap psychological benefits as they expand and refine their gross motor skills. Children become more self-confident when they challenge old boundaries related to their gross motor abilities and meet with success. Gaining gross motor proficiency permits preschool children to take part in a variety of active recreational activities, which can promote psychological well-being.
Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Preschool children develop gross motor skills through physical activities such as skipping, climbing and jumping, and when children perform these activities with confidence, they are more likely to routinely pursue other forms of active play. Integrating physical activity into daily life is a healthy habit that active children may embrace for a lifetime, reports the child-development website KidsHealth.org. As preschool children practice and perfect their gross motor skills, they acquire behaviors that provide significant health benefits for the future. Conversely, poorly developed gross motor skills may influence preschool children to feel clumsy and inept, discouraging them from engaging in future activity.
Support a Growing Body
The dramatic physical growth and change that typifies early childhood development makes the preschool child’s body readily distinguishable from the toddler’s more rotund body. The structured and unstructured play that promotes gross motor development helps your preschool child to build strong muscles and bones to support her growing body. Structured play is initiated and supervised by an adult, while unstructured, or free, play permits your child to choose her play activities. The National Association for Sports and Physical Education recommends that preschool children engage in at least 60 minutes of daily structured and unstructured play, according to KidsHealth.org.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Promoting Physical Activity in Preschoolers
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Why Motor Skills Matter
- Kids Health: Motivating Preschoolers to Be Active
- National Childcare Accreditation Council: Supporting Children's Development
- Kids Health: Raising a Fit Preschooler
- Ask Dr. Sears: 2 Years and Up - Creative Play
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images