Indoor/outdoor gross motor activities: Setting kids up for a healthier and more active future

Feb 22, 2022 5:00 AM ET

Gross motor skills are associated with actions involving the large muscles of our bodies, including those of the arms, legs, and torso. Kids (and adults too!) rely on gross motor skills to do almost everything – from walking and sitting, to running, and holding things up. Thanks to the extensive indoor and outdoor activities, children attending daycare in Silver Spring MD constantly hone their gross motor skills. 

Oft Overlooked Skills

As parents and guardians, we often focus on our child’s reading, writing and math skills – sometimes, overly so. Yet, what many caregivers fail to appreciate is the fact that, a healthy and active child is more likely to excel at those skills than one that’s not overly active. That’s why professional early childhood educators (ECEs), overseeing activities at a daycare in Rockville MD, and trained caregivers at a preschool in Bethesda or Rockville, also focus on indoor/outdoor gross motor activities.

A well-exercised body contributes to a well-developed mind. Motor skill activities help children with:

– Reaction time

– Body awareness

– Balance

– Physical strength

– …and much more

Lack of attention to developing motor skills in children can lead to poor posture, diminished stamina, lack of focus, and lack of self-esteem. As a result, young kids lose interest in enhancing their academic skills, such as reading, math and science. 

A Diverse Set of Activities

Fortunately, there are a range of indoor and outdoor activities that childcare specialists recommend for improving gross motor skills. Children attending a daycare in Gaithersburg MD typically benefit from these activities:

1. Martial Arts: When the weather isn’t too inviting outdoors, it’s a good idea to hold group play activities indoors, and martial arts is an ideal way to improve gross motor skills. Encouraging activities, such as kicking, grappling, punching, and stomping, helps children develop muscles in their arms, legs, and abdomen; and helps with strength training.

2. Trampolines: Usually associated with the outdoors, teachers and caregivers may also conduct trampoline activities indoors. As kids jump up and down on the device, it not only helps with muscle development, but also instills a sense of balance. Trampolining is also a great tool to aid kids with sensory processing challenges.

3. Pedal Toys – Scooters and Tricycles: These are activities that can easily be conducted indoors or outdoors. They help kids develop gross motor skills, such as strength in their legs, as well as a sense of balance. 

4. Playground activities: Swings, sea-saws, wobble bridges, rope ladders and slides – when combined into a physical activity routine, these activities help kids exercise their gross motor skills. Kids participating in playground fun build muscles in their hands and legs, and sharpen their sense of balance. 

Longer-term Benefits

Kids at a Bethesda daycare also benefit in other ways – apart from developing their gross motor skills. Professional supervision, during periods of indoor or outdoor activities, keeps children safe. Daycare settings also encourage group play. Playing with other kids, either indoors or outdoors, also hones a child’s social skills. It gives them self-confidence and improves their self-esteem.  These are skills, along with strength and stamina, that children need as they find their way into the workforce and navigate through other aspects of society. 

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