There are many fun activities your child can do on the playground to help facilitate gross motor development, develop coordination skills, and increase overall body strength. Below are just some examples of how to do this to get you started:

Playground Stairs & Ramps: Many playgrounds are equipped with a set of stairs that take kids all the way to the tippy top of a slide. Many of them also have landings that are the perfect height off the ground to allow the kids to jump down (this would be a height of around 16 inches). Practicing this skill lets kids use two feet together to take off and two feet to land at the same time. If they haven’t yet mastered a two footed landing, practicing by jumping down will help with the development of this skill!

Climbing walls: Many playgrounds have climbing walls these days (which is really cool). Climbing walls are a great way to use and develop a child’s upper body and lower body strength, core strength, and whole body coordination. They have to use their brain to figure out where to place their feet and hands and then coordinate what they have figured out with their bodies to get their bodies to execute each motion. It’s a whole body team work activity!

Swings: Swings provide a great foundation to work on postural control and balance using many muscles of the trunk, legs, and arms to do so! The swinging motion requires a child to move their body in opposition to the motion of swing to continue to generate momentum. Each transition of their body between back and front uses a give and take of the front versus the back muscles that help support their spine, hips, shoulders, and etc. Negotiating their body in this way helps teach them how to use these postural muscles and how much to use on each side to create a desired movement. In other words, it teaches them how to coordinate these muscles. 

Tubes: Tubes are a great way to build upper body strength and use the core in a way we typically don’t once we learn how to walk. You can encourage your child to be creative with their movement in tubes too, not only crawling forward but crawling backward, moving in a bear crawl, trying a commando crawl (on their belly), or even crab walk!

Slides: Last but not least, slides are also a great tool to help develop body strength and coordination. When a child slides down a slide, they have to keep their body upright in a sitting position. While they are doing this, inertia is pushing their trunk backward and they have to use their core to stay upright! When they land at the bottom, they again have to coordinate the front and back core muscles to keep from falling forward as the force of inertia is decreased on their trunk (when the movement stops). They also must stop themselves with their legs without losing their balance, which requires a lot of strength, control, and coordination of the legs and body!

We hope you have so much fun on the playground this June! Remember to always supervise your kiddos while they are playing and stand close to them while they are trying new and difficult skills, in case they need your help! At the same time, remember that the playground is the perfect place for kids to take risks, challenge their skills and learn how to problem solve.

If your kiddo is having trouble with coordinating or performing some of these gross motor skills, give us a call at KidPT to schedule a free Discovery Visit today! We would love to talk to you about your child’s potential PT needs!

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