Motor skill development plays an important role in childhood, as it can have an impact on a child’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing. Motor skills include running, skipping, jumping, hopping, galloping, throwing, catching and striking, most of which are incorporated into play at school or during competitive sports on the weekend. When considering how much play and sport makes up a child’s livelihood, we can see how being skilled at certain motor tasks can increase a child’s participation with peers, sense of belonging and self-esteem. On the other hand, those children who have delays in motor skill development may be at higher risk of having low self-esteem as they don’t feel comfortable when participating in play and sports.
It’s important to understand that motor skills gradually develop into a mature pattern over time. Generally, younger children in primary school show immature patterns of motor skills. These, over time, become more refined into the mature pattern we recognise among older children. For example, with regard to running, an immature pattern would show the child’s arms held at chest height to assist with balance, and in contrast a mature pattern would show the child swinging their arms in opposition to their legs.
Physiotherapy can help identify deficits or delays in a child’s motor skill development and provide recommendations unique to each child. Therapy Through Play is a highly researched area of paediatric physiotherapy which has a strong and supportive evidence base.
As play is the natural way children explore, learn and develop, therapy needs to incorporate these same principles.
Ensuring environments are appropriately challenging for the child based on their age-related motor skills is one of the ways physiotherapy can help. Understanding the needs of each child is the foundation upon which physiotherapy can tailor play-based therapies to the unique strengths and weaknesses present.
Good Country Physiotherapy has a Helping Children Move Well program which targets these gross motor skills (such as running, kicking, catching and climbing) and fine motor skills (for example, placing pegs in a box, playing with Lego and tying shoelaces). We aim to facilitate progressions in daily and functional tasks to help children achieve goals, regain confidence and play with their peers.
If you would like to find out more about how our physiotherapists can help your child, call one of our clinics or visit our website/Facebook page for more information.