Developing gross motor skills

The building blocks of everyday movement

Why developing gross motor skills is an important part of early childhood development

Getting dressed in the morning, driving your car, walking up the stairs to the office, throwing the ball for the dog, going for a run, cooking dinner – these are all activities that many of us take for granted as we go about our daily lives. The common thread? Each one involves large muscle groups developed through gross motor skills in early childhood.

What are gross motor skills?

Gross motor skills are physical actions that require whole body movement and involve the body’s core stabilising muscles. These skills are engaged in everyday activities such as sitting upright, standing and walking, as well as hand-eye coordination skills like throwing and catching.

Why it’s important for children to develop gross motor skills

Gross motor skills form the foundation of everyday activities. They also influence other daily functions. For example, without the ability to maintain a good sitting posture (using gross motor skills), a child will have difficulty participating in tasks that require fine motor skills, like writing and drawing.

The building blocks of developing gross motor skills:

  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscle planning and control
  • Muscle tone
  • Motor learning
  • Postural control
  • Sensory processing
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Body awareness
  • The ability to cross the mid-line
  • Proprioception

How you can help your child develop gross motor skills

The good news is that helping your child develop good gross motor skills can be fun! Encourage the following games and activities:

  • Hopscotch and other games that necessitate jumping from one spot to another
  • Wheelbarrow walking, which is good for upper body strength
  • Ball games, to develop hand-eye coordination (start with larger balls, then move onto smaller balls as the skill is mastered)
  • Walking and climbing over unstable surfaces (like a stack of pillows or bean bags)
  • Climbing and swinging in the playground
  • Balancing on one leg or along a beam
  • Skipping
  • Obstacle courses (try to make your own!)
  • Verbal copy games such as ‘Simon Says’

Toys that promote gross motor development

Your only limit when it comes to fun activities for developing gross motor skill is your imagination! Here are some toy ideas to let the games and gross motor skill development begin:

Truly Toys stock a wide range of good-quality toys that promote gross motor development. To find out more about our educational toys for all ages, please visit our website or contact us for a quote: 011 618 1337 /

Further reading:


More To Explore

Growing your child’s imagination

The aeroplane, the light bulb, television; none of these remarkable achievements would have been possible without imagination. So how do we cultivate imagination through play