Motor skills development and your child

It’s incredible how rapidly children change, grow and develop. As a parent you have probably stood in amazement as your child masters something that they couldn’t do a week previously.

This is one of the reasons why those new “this time 3 years ago” posts on Facebook are so popular. It pops up on your timeline, with a picture of your child a couple of years previously and you melt, yelling, “I can’t believe how much he/she’s grown!”

Gross motor development refers to the major actions and muscles that help infants move, such as crawling, standing and walking. Here, Mysmartkid occupational therapist Susanne Hugo talks us through some of the major milestones:

Gross motor skills:
The development of gross motor skills refers to your child strengthening and gaining control of the larger muscle groups in their legs, arms and torso.

Between the ages of 4 and 5, don’t be surprised if your toddler keeps you very busy. As their coordination improves and certain skills become much easier for them, they’ll start getting much more active too. There is some good news though – because by now your child should be able to do many things on their own, like running, hopping, playing with a ball and climbing up and down stairs.

From the age of 5 your child’s coordination is finely developed. Which means they can walk in a straight line and climb up and down stairs while alternating their feet. They can also play with a skipping rope, climb, run, walk on tiptoe and play plenty of ball games really easily.

Fine motor skills:
The development of fine motor skills refers to your child strengthening and gaining control of their hands, wrists, lips and tongue.

Drawing with pencils and crayons becomes a lot easier for your child at this age. As they draw and colour in, you should see your child increasingly using their wrist and fingers, and fewer shoulder and elbow movements.

By the end of this year your child will be able to draw a detailed picture, colour in neatly and even write their own name! (But you will have to show them how at first.) Their pencil grip will be just like yours and their scissor and gluing skills will improve significantly too.

Should you have any concerns about your child’s development, speak to an expert. But remember, each child develops at their own pace, and there are no hard and fast rules.

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