Why Is it Important to Develop Gross Motor Skills in Preschool Children?

Gross motor skills include all of the large movements your child makes with major muscle groups. Running, jumping, climbing and dancing are examples. Your preschooler likely engages in these activities on his own, but encouraging activities that develop those skills benefits your young child. With regular practice, he masters his control of the major muscle groups to become a healthy, well-rounded child.

Helping Nature's Progress

With each new milestone, your child's body reaches the physical ability to perform certain tasks. For example, by age 3 to 4, a child should be able to kick, throw overhand and catch a ball after it bounces, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 23. Just because his body is ready doesn't mean he automatically masters the skill, though. Promoting gross motor development gives your preschooler practice at those large muscle movements. He becomes better able to perform the physical tasks that are expected based on his age.

Basis For Complex Activities

Toddlers and preschoolers still need time to focus on individual gross motor skills before they can combine the movements effectively. A preschooler often focuses much of his energy on maintaining his balance while running, for example, according to the AAP. When he masters those individual gross motor skills, he is better able to use them together for more complex activities, such as playing peewee soccer. Activities that enhance gross motor skills help prepare your child for those future activities.


A young child with weak gross motor skills feels uncoordinated and incompetent in physical activities, such as playground games. He may avoid those activities that require gross motor skills, according to Rae Pica, children's physical education specialist, in an article for the National Association for the Education of Young Children 1. Avoiding those activities means fewer opportunities to catch up on gross motor skills. He may also feel left out and miss out on socializing time with his peers.

Physical Activity

Since gross motor skills involve large movements of the body, developing these skills means your child is moving around and getting exercise. Getting him hooked on physical activity at an early age means he's more likely to be an active adult, which means a healthier body as he gets older. In the meantime, your active preschooler who engages his whole body strengthens his bones and muscles, according to KidsHealth.