Why Motor Skills Matter

Why Motor Skills Matter

Lisa M. Elliott, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist and Clinic Manager
Cook Children’s Medical Center

Development and use of gross motor skills in children and adolescents is good for their overall well-being and health. However most people do not realize these skills also play an important role in a child’s academic success, their brain development, self-esteem, ability to participate in group events and in social skills. Gross motor skills involve the bigger muscle groups like arms, legs, feet and torso whereas fine motor skills involve smaller muscles such as hands, fingers and toes. All motor skills, both gross and fine motor require a connection between the brain and the muscles in your body. Generally gross motor skills develop sequentially and they need to be mastered before fine motor skills are mastered. Unfortunately, once a child has mastered locomotion (i.e., walking) and other general gross motor milestones it is all too common that the emphasis shifts to the development of fine motor skills. Both gross and fine motor skills are important and should be optimally developed. The development and enhancement of gross motor skills plays a significant role in a child’s academic success, positive self-esteem and confidence.

Good gross motor development has been found to be beneficial for academic success. Research has shown good eye-hand and eye-foot coordination skills can enhance the vision aspect of reading skills (Dequiros, 1979). Proper upper body support is critical for handwriting.

Gross motor activities also help increase the flow of glucose which is the brain’s chief source of energy. This activity helps develop normal connections during their critical years of child and adolescent development (Gabbard, 1993).

Both children and adolescents continue to develop increasing coordination and motor ability with proper instruction and guidance. This allows a child to gain greater physical strength and endurance. In addition, continued gross motor instruction and development will help foster better distance judgment, motor planning and hand-eye coordination which are beneficial for play and sports participation. All of this promotes greater self-confidence, and a willingness to attempt new challenges. Social inclusion is another positive attribute to good gross motor coordination. A child who is more confident engaging in activities and who has the gross motor skills to do so is frequently invited to participate in many fun group activities.

Awareness and development of good gross motor skills begins during infancy and the toddler years, however it should continue to be a focus throughout childhood and adolescence. Overall good gross motor coordination helps contribute to a child’s positive self-esteem, a desire to be active and healthy, academic success and overall confidence.

One Response to “Why Motor Skills Matter”

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