A child's preschool years are an important time to focus on his gross and fine motor skills. In an environment where a child has ample opportunity to run, jump, climb and play, his natural physical development increases these important skills.
Gross motor skills involve the large muscle movements. These include the skills to run, jump, climb, hop, skip, march and negotiate obstacles. Most children develop gross motor skills doing what they do best, which is playing with other children. Unfortunately, as society has become more technology-focused and because of safety concerns in some environments, some young people are not having ample opportunities for such play. Some young children face greater challenges with physical movement and may require more structured learning opportunities.
The most important thing a parent or caregiver can provide for a preschool child is the opportunity to move. Unless a child faces some specific challenges, the everyday opportunity to move his body by exploring in the back yard, playing with others at the play ground, throwing a ball with a friend or parent, or dancing in the living room provide him with the opportunity to develop gross motor skills.
If a child is in a preschool setting, ample guided opportunities to develop gross motor skills should be provided. More structured activities like a dance or gymnastics class or a beginning soccer program are also valuable. If the child has any special challenges, assistance through an early intervention program may be necessary and helpful.
It is most important for physical activity to be fun and varied. A child gains confidence and self-esteem though activity. It is also helpful in reducing the risk of obesity and in controlling emotions. Physical activity provides an important basis for cognitive development.