Active play isn’t just exercise–it builds motor skills and the manual dexterity that will support a broad range of future creative interests.
Fine motor skills starts with the ability to grasp an object, such as picking up a ball. Further development of those small muscles later lead to writing and the ability to do intricate work such as knitting, model building, painting or playing a musical instrument. Gross motor starts with the ability to swat an object, such as pounding a ball. Further development of those large muscles leads to playing catch, dance and sports related activities in later years.
The development of motor skills in a child’s first few years is critical, and it is just as important as the development of sensory awareness/exploration, language, and social/emotional awareness during this period. Plus, developing an early enjoyment of physical movement will encourage kids to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in later years.
When babies are ready, encourage them to reach and grasp objects or sensory toys that interest them, eventually placing the objects within a short crawl as they progress in their physical development. Music can also motivate movement, and musical instruments can enhance the abilities to grasp and control. Playhouses and active and outdoor play toys will get children moving once they start to walk and run. Climbing, crawling, jumping and throwing or catching a ball can also offer rich imaginary play opportunities, or turn into fun social games as well. Ride-on toys can encourage outdoor play and can turn into wonderful imaginary play opportunities as well.