Sunday, 12 October 2014

Developing Gross Manipulative Skills in Preschool Children

by a contributor (Teresa Cheong from Lifebridges Communications)


Movement comes naturally to children. But chlldren need a strong foundation in fundamental movement skills to enjoy games and sports as adolescents and adults. Besides locomotor skills, children need to master gross manipulative skills. 

What are gross manipulative skills?

Gross manipulative skills involve learning how to handle and control objects with the hands. These include throwing, catching, kicking, striking, bouncing and underarm roll. 


Throwing a ball well requires 
techniques that can be taught



Why are gross manipulative skills important for preschool children?

They help a child develop object control and dexterity of the hands. A child first learns how to throw a ball, but the throw is aimless. The child then progresses to throwing the ball accurately in a specific direction.

Object control gives a preschooler confidence to participate in future sports activities that utilise ball skills such as softball, cricket and basketball.

Preschool children with good manipulative skills have better sense of balance, coordination and movement.

Development of gross manipulative skills by age

Preschool children develop manipulative skills progressively. Compare your child’s development against this simplified checklist:


By Age One

Your child is able to grasp, pick up small object with one hand, and release it.


By Age Two

Your preschooler can:

Throw ball overhand using two hands while standing 

Catch large bounced ball against the body with straight arms

Kick a stationary ball


By Age Three 

Your preschooler shows more manipulative skills and is able to:

Use outstretched arms to catch a large ball thrown to them at short distance 

Rotate the trunk/body to increase force for throwing

Kick a stationary ball forcibly

Execute an overhand throw (important object control skill used in sports activities such as baseball and basketball)



Kicking is fun but mastering 
it requires practice


By Age Four 

Your preschooler does all the above and performs additional manipulative skills:

Roll a ball underhand 

Toss a ball underhand 

Bounce a ball


By Age Five

Your preschool child shows increased dexterity of the hands:

Catch a small ball with outstretched arms

Throw ball high up into the air and catch it most of the time.

Kick stationary ball with force and in required direction

Kick moving ball while running

Execute overarm and underarm throws with force and in required direction

Bounce a ball accurately


If your child is clumsy in executing any of these manipulative skills, try creating unstructured play activities using objects of different sizes and textures such as balls, scoops, frisbees and plastic crockery. 


You can sharpen your child’s manipulative skills by enrolling in a proven preschool exercise programme such as Ready Steady Go Kids.

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