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.
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)
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.