Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

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Gross Motor and Fine Motor Skills are an important part of a child’s development. Understanding what those terms mean is very important and key to your child’s successful progression.

Jungle Gyms are Internationally recognised by occupational therapists as the best form of developmental play structure for young children.

Gross Motor Skills are defined as movements of the large muscles in the body such as the arm and leg muscles.

These types of movements are easier for children to control and usually develop far faster than fine motor skills. Some of the movements that are considered gross motor movements are:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Swinging
  • Sliding
  • Skipping
  • Climbing (over complex structures, obstacles and up ladders)
  • Crawling (vertical and horizontal)
  • Rope Climbing
  • Jumping
  • General Adventure Play

…to name just a few.

You can help your child develop these skills by providing activities that encourage large muscle movement. Encourage them to climb (Jungle Gyms are ideal) and be active in a safe environment where they can run or walk and generally move their little bodies around in a busy kind of way. If your child is younger, encourage them to roll over, sit-up, to crawl or walk is also a great way to help develop gross motor skills.

Fine Motor Skills are movements of the small muscles in the body such as hands and fingers.

These are the most challenging skills for children to develop because in order to develop fine motor skills, you have to have developed good control over your body. Young children do not tend to have as many fine motor skills as gross motor. Some of the movements that are considered fine motor movements are:

  • Writing
  • Pointing
  • Grasping
  • Holding and
  • Reaching.

Fine motor skills can be very hard for children to learn because they require a lot of control. Some of the first fine motor skills you can help your young child to learn can be helped by encouraging them to reach for objects. You will see a lot of baby toys that dangle down over the baby. This  is because it is meant to attract the child to reach for things. While they are sitting in a high chair placing small objects for them to reach for is a great way to stimulate movement. Older children develop fine motor skills by writing, drawing, painting, putting puzzles together, etc. You will notice as children get older, their toys get smaller and this is primarily because they can manipulate objects with more ease.

When working with your child on either gross or fine motor skills, it is important to keep in mind that each child is different. Your doctor will be able to tell you what benchmarks they should be attaining and at what age. Giving your child something that is too hard for them to do will only cause frustration in the child and they will become uninterested. You would want activities that are challenging but not impossible. This is why play is so important for a child!

You can help your child develop these skills by providing activities that encourage large muscle movement. Having small things they can climb, a safe place where they can run or walk and even trips to the playground are great ideas. If your child is younger, encouraging them to roll over, sit-up, to crawl or walk is great ways to help develop gross motor skills. That is why it is important that even a baby isn’t in a baby chair all day or in a swing. Letting them learn and stimulating movement is important for their muscles to strengthen as well.