By Dana Brumm, Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer’s Wauwatosa Child Care Center
In the words of Dr. Maria Montessori, “Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements.” This is one of the reasons we, in early childhood, promote gross motor skills everyday!
Gross motor skills are the abilities required to control the large muscles of the body for walking, jumping, skipping, and more. Movement plays a bigger part in young lives and education than initially thought. Research shows that mind and body are not separate and that the body has a significant role in cognitive development. To be of maximum benefit, movement experiences should be introduced early in life. Motor skills enhanced at all stages build a positive attitude about habitual physical activity and sets the foundation for a lifetime of good health.
Below are recommendations that would be effective in enhancing early brain and gross motor skill development.
- Provide children with lots of sensory-motor experiences, especially of the visual-motor variety. This would include activities that integrate visual information with gross-motor movements. Such activities include striking, kicking, and catching.
- Include a variety of basic gross-motor activities that involve postural control, coordination of movements, and locomotion, This includes crawling, creeping, body rolling, and jumping. In addition to stimulating wiring patterns in the brain to do those skills, the aerobic workout these activities provides the brain is its chief energy source, glucose. In essence, these activities increase blood flow, which feeds the brain and enhances connectivity.
- Combine movement activities and music. The combination of music with movement presents an excellent learning tool for young children. It plays to their sensory explorations.
The most important thing we can do is to give young children opportunities to move. Working on gross motor skills helps children gain strength and confidence in their body. It also helps them get exercise and physical activity, which is important for a healthy lifestyle. Developing these skills helps children’s ability to build their cognition skills do more complex thinking and other skills in future activities.