Watching our children grow and reach their developmental milestones is one of the most exciting things about being a parent! One of the biggest milestones for kids is the development of their gross motor skills – the big movement; crawling, walking, running, jumping, skipping, etc.
In their overall development, gross motor skills are especially important.
At Beyond Speech Therapy Specialists we understand the significance of these skills! Let’s take a look at WHY it’s essential for your child to hit their motor milestones, discuss the major milestones for gross motor skills and talk about how physical therapy can be a valuable resource for children facing motor challenges.
The Building Blocks of Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills involve the coordination and control of the large muscles in the body, particularly those in the legs, arms and core.
These skills are the foundation for many everyday activities and make a difference for a child’s physical, cognitive and social development.
Why Are Gross Motor Skills Important?
Physical Fitness: Developing gross motor skills encourages physical activity and helps children maintain a healthy weight.
Regular physical activity is essential for cardiovascular health, muscle development and bone strength.
Independence: Fluency and ease in gross motor skills allows children to perform daily tasks independently.
Skills like walking, running and climbing are fundamental for moving through their day and exploring the world around them.
Social Interaction: Gross motor activities often involve interaction with same-age peers and family.
These interactions help to teach and build social skills like cooperation, communication and problem-solving.
Cognitive Development: Gross motor skills contribute to cognitive development by enhancing spatial awareness, balance and coordination.
These skills are essential for activities like reading, writing and overall executive functioning.
Self-Esteem: Achieving gross motor milestones boosts a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence!
Success in physical activities promotes a positive self-image and allows them to participate and keep up in various activities and with their peers.
Key Gross Motor Milestones
Every child progresses at their own pace, but there are general milestones that parents can use as guidelines for monitoring their child’s development:
At 2-3 Months, a child will typically:
– Bend and straighten arms and legs while lying on their back
– Begin to bear weight on their legs
At 4-6 Months, a child will typically:
– Maintain balance while in a sitting position
– Bring both hands to midline while on their back
– Raise arms and legs with smooth movements while lying on their stomach and back
At 6-8 Months, a child will typically:
– Move forward up to three feet using their arms
– Pull to sitting position
– Maintain sitting balance while grasping and reaching for a toy
– Roll from back to stomach
– Lift head while lying on their stomach
At 9-12 Months, a child will typically:
– Balance in a standing position for 5 seconds
– Creep on a flat surface and over a small barrier
At 18 Months, a child will typically:
– Walk up 4 steps
– Walk independently for 15 feet
– Walk backwards
– Throw a ball
At 24 Months, a child will typically:
– Run forward at least 10 ft
– Kick a ball forward
– Walk sideways
At 3 Years, a child will typically:
– Lift both feet to jump forward 24 inches
– Walk up 4 steps, alternating feet
– Stand on one foot for 3 seconds
– Catch an 8 in. ball
At 4 Years, a child will typically:
– Walk down 4 steps alternating feet
– Run and hop forward on 1 foot
– Throw a ball overhand at a target from 5 ft. away
At 5 Years, a child will typically:
– Skip for 8 ft
– Stand on each foot for 20 seconds
– Complete several sit-ups
– Run and change direction without falling
How Physical Therapy Can Help Develop Gross Motor Skills
For children who experience motor deficits or delays in hitting these milestones, physical therapy can be a very valuable resource and source of support.
A pediatric physical therapist specializes in assessing and addressing these challenges and tailoring interventions to each child’s unique needs.
Here’s how physical therapy can make a difference:
1. Early Intervention
Early intervention is critical for addressing motor deficits. Pediatric physical therapists can identify issues and create intervention plans that maximize a child’s potential for improvement.
2. Customized Treatment Plans
Physical therapists design individualized treatment plans to target specific motor deficits. These plans include exercises and activities that enhance strength, balance, coordination, and mobility.
3. Adaptive Equipment
Physical therapists can recommend and provide access to adaptive equipment, such as braces, orthotics, or mobility aids, to assist children in achieving their motor milestones.
4. Collaboration with Other Specialists
In some cases, gross motor deficits are associated with other developmental challenges.
Physical therapists often collaborate with other specialists, such as occupational therapists or speech-language pathologists, to provide holistic care.
5. Support for Families
Pediatric physical therapists work closely with parents and caregivers to educate and provide resources about their child’s condition.
They can also provide guidance on activities and exercises that can be done at home to support progress.
Hitting motor milestones is a significant achievement in a child’s life, and it sets the stage for their physical, cognitive, and social development.
Gross motor skills are essential for physical fitness, independence, and self-esteem. However, some children may face motor deficits that hinder their progress. At Beyond Speech Therapy Specialists, we understand the importance of gross motor skills and the challenges some children may encounter.
Our pediatric physical therapists are dedicated to providing comprehensive care and support to help your child reach their motor milestones and thrive in all aspects of life!
If you have concerns about your child’s motor development, please reach out to us at (779) 435-0724 or click here to send us a message.