Developing Preschoolers’ Gross Motor Skills through Play

Published on: Wed 15, November, 2023

As children grow and develop, their ability to move and coordinate their bodies also progresses. Gross motor skills refer to large movements that require the use of multiple muscles and joints, such as running, jumping, and throwing. These skills are essential for children’s physical and cognitive development, and play can be a great way to help foster these skills. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about gross motor skills and how to help preschoolers, children between the ages of about 3 and 6 years, develop these skills through play.

Understanding Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are developed using the larger muscle groups in the body and involve movements such as rolling over, crawling, walking, running, jumping, and throwing. These skills are essential for preschoolers’ physical development, as they improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance. Developing gross motor skills also has cognitive benefits, such as improving memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.

The Importance of Play

Play is an essential part of childhood, and children learn best through playing. Play allows preschoolers to explore their environment, develop social skills, and engage in physical activities that promote the development of gross motor skills. When preschoolers engage in movement-based play, they are using their bodies and their minds, which helps to strengthen their connections and improve their overall physical and cognitive development.

Activities to Develop Gross Motor Skills

Here are some activities that you can use to help preschoolers develop gross motor skills:

Physical Play

Physical play can take many forms, such as running, jumping, hopping, climbing, and swinging. Encourage preschoolers to play outside, and explore their environment, such as climbing over rocks, jumping from tree stumps, or swinging on a swing set. You can also encourage them to play games that involve movement, such as tag or follow the leader.

Ball Play

Playing with balls is a great way to help preschoolers develop their gross motor skills. You can start by rolling a ball back and forth with the child or playing with soft, lightweight balls that are easy to catch and throw. As the child develops their skills, you can move on to playing more challenging games, such as basketball, soccer, or catch.


Dancing is a fun and engaging activity that helps preschoolers develop their gross motor skills. Putting on some music and dancing with a child is a great way to improve balance, coordination, and endurance. You can also encourage preschoolers to dance along to their favorite songs and make up their own dance moves, promoting creativity and boosting their confidence.

Obstacle Courses

Setting up an obstacle course is a great way to encourage a child to move in different ways and develop their gross motor skills. You can use items such as cones, hula hoops, or balance beams to create a course that involves jumping, crawling, and balancing. You can also make it more challenging by timing the child and encouraging them to improve their speed and technique.

Tips for Encouraging Gross Motor Skills

Here are some tips to help you encourage gross motor skill development in preschoolers:

Create a Safe Environment

When encouraging gross motor skill development, it’s important to create a safe environment to prevent injuries. Make sure that the area of play is free from any hazards, such as sharp objects or unstable structures.

Offer Gentle Guidance

When helping children develop gross motor skills, it’s essential to offer gentle guidance and support. Encourage the child to try new movements, but don’t force them to do anything that may make them uncomfortable or anxious.

Celebrate Achievements

Praise and celebrate preschoolers’ achievements, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can help to boost their confidence and encourage them to keep trying.

Be Patient

Developing gross motor skills takes time and practice. Be patient, and don’t expect a child to develop skills overnight. Every child learns at their own pace, and it’s important to let them progress at their own speed.

Are you passionate about children and eager to deepen your understanding of their growth and development, particularly their gross motor skills? Enrol in our online course, Child Development, and embark on a rewarding journey of learning. Discover the essential role of gross motor skills in preschoolers’ physical and cognitive development, and explore effective techniques for encouraging children through play. Recognising that each child progresses at their own pace, we emphasise the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment. 

Child Development will help you gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to provide gentle guidance, patience, and ample playtime to help children develop their gross motor skills. Join us today and unlock a wealth of insights into children’s growth and set a solid foundation for their lifelong development.