How to Develop Motor Skills in Kids

Two Parts:Gross Motor SkillsFine motor skills

There are two types of muscular control abilities (motor skills). One is fine motor (involving small muscles) and the other is gross motor (involving large muscles). Gross motor refers to skills that use larger muscles of the body to perform everyday basic functions like holding his/her head up, sitting upright, crawling, standing, etc. It is these skills that help the child to eventually walk, run and skip. Fine motor skills refer to the use of smaller muscles to engage in smaller, more precise movements, normally using hand and fingers. Here are some practical activities to do at home to help a child develop motor skills.

Part 1
Gross Motor Skills

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    Don't rush the child, but encourage achieving skills at ones own level when ready, with enough space to play. Allow him/her to stand when ready as the basic and most important gross motor skill needed to learn to walk. Occasionally using a high-sided playpen gives the child opportunity to pull up, stand and freedom to walk around holding to the railings, being very active in a safe area (get rid of the pen when the child is getting close to being able to climb out). A baby "gate" in a doorway will keep the very young child in a room that is safe and clear of dangers.
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    Child proof your house for safety for the sitting, crawling child. Obviously, soft toys should be available, but the crawling child will taste and swallow anything on or near the floor. You cannot be too sure, so ensure that the following issues have been taken care of:
    • Secure cleaning products, shoe polish, glass that can shatter, forks and knives out of reach, etc. Keep the floors free of bits, pieces and objects.
    • Put/tie up venetian blind cords, and any other dangling objects that can entangle the child.
    • No electric cords to pull an iron or lamp, etc. down on the child's head.
    • No small wheels and such that can be pulled or broken off, chewed and/or swallowed. Hand to mouth action makes a floor sweeper that will put any debris, or bits in the mouth.
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    Allow the child to walk and scurry around in the house (of course, you need to watch closely). You can be "it": follow and catch (tag) your child and then vice versa (let the child catch you).
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    Play a hurdle game with your child. Place a newspaper on the floor and ask your child to walk around the newspaper without stepping on it. If the child steps on newspaper, he or she will have to start again. You can also do the same thing.
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    Play treasure hunt with a variation. Hide the child’s favorite toy on the floor beneath a baby blanket, or such, and ask the child to find it. Then you can ask your child to hide something and you can find it. Let the young child be messy, until you ask for help cleaning up.
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    Roll a ball back and forth between the two of you. Play kick ball/soccer games. You will have the most amazing time.
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    Play bounce the ball. Try gently throwing and retrieving a very light, soft, fairly large ball with your young child. Toss the ball "underhand" and ask your child to throw it back and you catch it. Let it be a game where one loses and other wins. Allow your child to win a few times. But don’t make it a habit to allow him/her to win every time. Let them lose too.
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    Help the child be able to throw and catch, when ready. Develop throwing and catching skills. Eventually play football and baseball with your child.

Part 2
Fine motor skills

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    Provide blocks to children and let them create structures with those blocks. It will help them develop their grip, which is required for writing skills.
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    Provide children with zipper clothes and clothes with buttons. Let them open and close the zips and button and unbutton the shirt. This will enhance their fine motor skills along with eye-hand co-ordination and self help skills, which are required before the child starts to go to a pre-school.
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    Develop the child's eye hand co-ordination and pincer grasp, both required for writing skills. One option is snap together a soft cube. Large Lego blocks are available for small children, smaller ones when old enough. Another good task is lacing. You can make lacing boards at home by punching holes in different shapes. Then ask your child to pass a bulky cord through, to lace through the holes.
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    Provide your child with clay (play dough). Let the child be messy and create different forms from it. This will also enhance your child’s creativity.
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    Provide paints and paintbrushes. Spread out plain paper around the floor or attach to an easel board. (Do not use newspaper or paper with something written on it, as the child will not like it visually and might not want to paint on it.) Allow the child to be the messiest he/she can ever be and let him/her paint imaginatively with the paints and brushes. Another option is to allow the child to just dip his/her hands and fingers in the paint and create "masterpieces". Though it can be very messy, it's the most fun. You can also take part with your child and paint and have fun with colours.
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    Provide newspapers or rough paper to your child. Ask your child to tear it, then twist it and crumple it. The child can make balls, then you can play an aiming game with the child; for example, lay aim the balls in the bin. This will enhance fine motor as well as gross motor skills. Older children can be asked to tear it and then paste it to make a collage.
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    Provide pre-school and older children with strings and beads to make and wear a necklace. This will enhance their fine motor skills and helps their eye to hand co-ordination. If beads are not available, give them macaroni and let them weave it onto string.


  • Ensure that you take time with your child to share activities you both can do; it will add a fun element that your child will enjoy the most.
  • When you are not taking part with your child, ensure that you keep on eye on him/her. It can be dangerous to leave a young child unattended.
  • Try using low cost toys and unbreakable materials.


  • Don't be demanding or mean. Be childlike with your child. Relax and play at his/her level, never pushing too far. Challenges need to be quite possible, not far above the child's current ability.

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Categories: Childhood Health