Gross Motor Skills Help Develop Handwriting

Good gross motor control provides the core stability and strength necessary for hand and finger muscles to do their work. Gross motor skills involve the postural control and movement of large muscle groups in the neck, shoulders, trunk, and legs; these skills allow us to perform tasks like sitting upright, standing, walking, running, and playing. Gross motor skill development typically precedes the development of fine motor skills.

To write proficiently, students must have the postural control and core stability to sit upright. They also need shoulder strength and endurance to stabilize the hand and fingers.

Try These Gross Motor Skill Activities with Your Kids

The following gross motor skill activities can help improve strength and postural stability:

Beanbag Games

Try using alphabet beanbags to improve your child’s letter and sound recognition. Have them state the letter on the beanbag, share what sound it makes, and come up with a word starting with that same letter. Then, toss the beanbag.

Weight-Bearing Activities

Weight-bearing activities like animal walking, wheelbarrow walking, and push-ups/planks.

Chair or Wall Push-Ups

Chair push-ups: Have your child sit in a chair and place their hands on either side of a chair. Then, push to raise their bottom off the chair. To increase difficulty, have them suspend themselves in the air for a count of 3-5 seconds. As they progress, they can simultaneously lift their feet off the floor.

Wall push-ups: Pretend like the wall is falling down and have your child push to keep it up! Push for 5-10 seconds.

Write on a Vertical Surface

Create a large art project or write on a vertical surface. Ideas include painting on paper adhered to a wall, using an easel or a large whiteboard/chalkboard, etc.

Air Writing

Have your child write letters in the air using their entire arm and describing each step of the way. This activity is ideal for motor planning and reinforces proper letter formation.

Hanging Activities

Hanging activities, such as chin-ups, pull-ups, and swinging from monkey bars or tree limbs.

Climbing Activities

Climbing activities, such as climbing walls and playground rope or ladder climbing.

Coordination Activities

Coordination activities, such as jumping jacks, jumping rope, and hand-clapping games.

Ball Skills

Ball skills, like throwing, catching and shooting. All are great eye-hand coordination activities that focus on consciously using and guiding the hands.

It is important to know that a child can have poor handwriting even with good gross and fine motor skills. Other issues such as impaired motor planning skills, visual motor skills, perceptual/spatial skills, attention, memory, and attitude can all affect handwriting.

About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at, or you can contact our office by email at or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.

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