Gross motor skills refers to large body movements using the big muscle groups (as opposed to the smaller, more detailed movements of the hands like colouring, writing, and eating with utensils). While some children will develop faster than others, paediatricians use general guidelines to determine if your child is developmentally on track. Some variation from the guidelines may be normal, but it's best to check with your child's doctor if you have any concerns about what your 3-year-old can and cannot do.
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Pedal a Bike or Tricycle
Some children may be zooming off on their little bike as soon as their feet hit the pedals. Others may need a push to get the hang of it. Make sure your child's bike is the appropriate size and that they are wearing proper shoes for pedalling. Instruct your child to put their feet on the pedals while you push them along. They will soon get used to the motion of the pedals and be able to do it on their own.
Jump with Two Feet
See if your child can jump off the floor with both feet leaving the ground at the same time. Show your child how to do it first, and ask them to copy you, jumping up and down in one place or hopping across the floor like a bunny.
Kick a Ball
Place a large rubber ball on the ground and have your child kick it forward. Your child should be able to make their foot connect with the ball, even if it doesn't travel very far.
Catch a Ball
While your child may not be able to catch a ball every time you throw it, they should be able to attempt to catch it.
Walk up Stairs while Alternating Footsteps
It may be more comfortable for your child to walk up the stairs placing only their dominant foot forward, but by age three they should be able to alternate between right and left foot while climbing the stairs.
Stand on One Foot for Five Seconds
Balance is a large part of gross motor skill development. Have your child stand on one foot and set a timer to see how long they can balance. Next try the other foot.
Walk Forward and Backward
By age three your child should be able to easily manoeuvre forward and backward while walking around or playing. To check your child's progress, play a game of follow the leader in which you move around the house or yard in both forward and backward directions.
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