Just as important as developing cognitive and social skills in school, is focusing on children’s physical abilities and increasing the complexity of physical skill as they grow. When caregivers have the appropriate expectations of children in the early years, it reduces stress for adults and supports self-esteem and healthy bodies in children. Everyone wins.

Understanding the very basics of physical domain development begins with knowing that human growth progresses in two particular directions:

  • Cephalocaudal: Head to trunk; trunk to hands and feet
    Children gain control of their head and face within the first couple months of life. Control of arms and hands follows, and finally legs and feet. Notice that infants are able to pull and grab before they can crawl and walk.
  • Proximodistal: Mid-line to extremities
    Children gain control of the central portion of their bodies before they master the extremities such as fingers and feet. Notice how children will crawl before they walk and grab a pencil with the whole hand (ulnar grasp) before they grab with their fingers (pincer grasp).

At school, gross motor programs are designed to optimize children’s ability to move and gain a mastery over their body, for health and functionality purposes. We begin with infants by presenting visual stimuli and encouraging movements toward them. For our toddlers, we model and exercise activities that engage their arms and legs, gaining more coordination month by month and with each exposure. Our preschoolers who have gained control of their mid-extremities are then taught how to refine those skills to have greater control over their hands and feet, giving them the strength and dexterity to write, run, and perform more skilled foot work.

At Crème de la Crème we pride our schools for providing a variety of gross motor activities throughout the day: Creative Movement, Gymnasium, Playgrounds and Waterparks where children explore a variety of gross motor opportunities. When the body is exercised, the brain can function optimally, which is why we promise 120 minutes per day. Exerting energy gives the body the balance it needs for the blood to flow to the brain, so cognition develops in tandem.

It is crucial that children’s gross motor skills are harnessed at home as well. Parents tend to engage with children in play, challenging them to catch, roll, grab, reach, run, and all of the other activities that allow you to communicate through gesture and fun. By knowing the very basics, you can be purposeful in your play while also knowing what is appropriate for their age and stage.

Dr. Masek
VP of Education