Developing motor skills


Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills are to do with large muscle groups; including the coordination and movement of arms, legs and other large body parts. Developing gross motor skills happens over time, by using different muscle groups.

Rolling over, crawling, standing and walking will come with time.

Very young babies have little control over their bodies, and so they will rely on you for support to move safely and comfortably. By encouraging your child to learn how to move their body through tummy time, you are supporting them in building strength and getting mobile.

You can encourage your child to use their developing motor skills as they learn and grow by playing and moving together. For older children, obstacle courses requiring different physical movement and balance are a great way to develop and strengthen skills.

As your child grows, they will become interested in different activities, but there are many ways to support your child’s motor skill development at each age.

Fine motor skills

Fine motor skills refer to the movement and control of small muscles groups, including hands, wrists, fingers, feet and toes.

Movement and physical play from birth is important for the development of fine motor skills, as these build the foundations for everyday activities later in life; like buttoning a shirt, tying shoelaces, playing a musical instrument, typing, writing and more.

As babies play and explore moving their hands and feet, they are developing fine motor skills and control. Grasping and holding toys, pressing buttons or using a pincer grip (holding something between the fore-finger and thumb) and copying gestures like waving are all ways to support their early fine motor skill development.

Bath-time is also a great time to play, using sponges for squeezing, cups to fill and pour out, and floating toys to reach for and catch.

Toddlers continue to refine their fine motor skills through everyday activities like learning to use utensils, holding pens or crayons to draw and stacking blocks or connecting larger construction materials.

Tactile play with materials like playdough or slime is a great way for children to experiment and build fine motor skills through play, through moulding and manipulating the different textures and materials.

Kindy aged will start building further upon these skills, using child safe scissors, puzzles or helping you measure ingredients for cooking. As their drawing and writing skills develop, kindergarten aged children may also start to mimic writing letters and drawing more detailed pictures.

child drawing with crayons

Last updated 13 November 2020