It can hard for parents to identify gross motor coordination issues, however, the earlier any issues are identified, the easier it is to address the problem and help children during early stages of their growth.
Debbie Evans, Founder and Clinical Director of Sydney’s most sought after children’s therapy service, Therapies for Kids, shares five ways to identify gross motor coordination issues in kids and her top five tips on how to help them develop.
1. Finding it difficult with acquisition or performance of gross motor skills
“There are a few indications that your child is finding it difficult developing gross motor skills. This includes if your child is older than two and is unable to jump on the spot, having difficulties running at three, cannot go up and down stairs with one foot per step at four, having trouble doing hurdles and hopping aged between four to five years. Strengthening activities are a good and engaging way to help children learn. You can make games fun such as giraffe walking, bear walking and crab walking, etc.”
2. Having trouble with playground games
“Between the ages of five and six, children should be able to throw and catch a tennis ball in their hands, play handball and use a skipping rope. If not, there is a chance they have gross motor coordination problems. To help your child develop their coordination skills, have a frequent repetition of activities. Do little bits and do it often. A helpful method is carrying a skipping rope, ball or scooter in the car which gives the opportunity to play with your child when you are outdoors and to improve hand-eye coordination. I suggest playing handball with your child. This involves catching and bouncing the ball, catching a bouncing ball and also getting your child to bounce the ball to themselves, off a wall etc.”
3. Finding it challenging to plan a movement safely
“For school aged children, tell-tale signs that they have gross motor coordination issues is when they cannot plan a movement safely. This includes difficulties with moving around a classroom and playground, walking up and down stairs, tripping over often and the inability to follow a sequence such as hopscotch. To help children overcome these issues, ensure that all activities are fun. Use different environments – make it safe but also stimulating. Props are also helpful too – this can include using bubbles, balls/hurdles, games and songs. It’s also great to involve siblings and friends as they can support and encourage one another.”
4. Requiring support with activities requiring balance
“When it comes to activities requiring balance, children experiencing difficulties can have poor spatial awareness. This can be evident when stepping off high objects as they misjudge distance. They trip over their own feet or small mats and are clumsy, such as bumping into table edges, doorways, etc. They may also have difficulty putting on clothes whilst standing because of poor balance. Selecting a variety of activities can excite children into trying new things and becoming more aware of how they balance. Some great activities are hopscotch and Simon Says or parents can use park play equipment and props from around the house such as chairs to crawl under, old mattresses to jump on and skipping ropes to jump over.”
5. Requiring assistance performing activities of daily living
“If your child has trouble getting dressed in the morning or tying up shoelaces and doing up buttons, they may have motor coordination issues. To overcome this, tailor your teaching methods to adapt to your child’s learning skills. This should be tried with a range of prompts including physical, verbal and visual. As you show them how to perform activities of daily living, this will allow them to follow along and learn. Emphasise and repeat when you have discovered which method works the best for your child.”
Therapies for Kids is for all abilities. For more information, visit www.therapiesforkids.com.au
Therapies for Kids is located at 37 Nelson Street, Annandale, NSW 2038.