The 12 key movement skills
There are twelve crucial movement skills that help children to perform everyday activities, and underpin the fine motor skills they’ll need for classroom learning later on:
This is the ability to hold a position without falling over, either while still (static balance), or while moving around (dynamic balance).
This is the ability to hold the lower body still whilst turning the upper body to the side. It’s important for activities like throwing a ball or crawling.
This is the ability of the muscles to hold the shoulder joint steady. It allows the arms to be held in different positions so that your child can use their hands for things like writing or using cutlery.
This is the ability of the muscles to hold the pelvis steady. It’s important for sitting, standing, and moving around, and affects control of the hands for things like reaching out.
Trunk / arm separation
This is the ability to move the arm in a controlled and accurate manner away from the body. It is affected by pelvic and trunk stability, and is important for activities like pouring a drink or throwing a ball.
Trunk / leg separation
This is the ability to move the legs in a controlled and accurate manner away from the body. It is affected by pelvic and trunk stability, and is important for things like kicking a ball or pedalling a bike.
Fluency of movements
This is the ability to move the body in a smooth and controlled manner. It is important for activities like drawing, running or spreading butter on toast.
This is the ability to sense where your body is in space and how it is moving without looking. It is generated by feedback from the muscles and joints and helps with sitting squarely on a chair, and moving around without bumping into people or objects.
It also helps us to know how much force we’re using, so that we can carefully pick up objects or pour a drink.
The asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ANTR) is sometimes known as the ‘fencing response’. This describes the movement of a baby’s arms and legs when their face turns to one side. It’s useful in babies as it helps with the development of hand-eye coordination.
If it remains in older children, though, it can affect their ability to bring both hands together or keep hold of an object when looking around a room. It can also affect their postural stability, for example, sitting at a school desk.
This refers to the child’s awareness of how their body moves in relation to their position in space, and where objects are in relation to their body.
It is important for understanding diagrams and directions (for example, up, down, into and away from the body), and for activities such as pulling a jumper over the head and scooping food onto a spoon.
This is the ability to move one hand or foot across the middle of the body to carry out an activity. It’s important for developing hand/foot dominance and for activities like pulling on a coat or writing across a page.
Fine motor skills
This is the ability to use the hands, fingers and thumbs in a precise and controlled manner. This is important for holding and manipulating objects such as pencils and cutlery.
More from the BBC:
Tree Fu Tom on CBeebies
Tree Fu Tom online games
Interactive guide: how crawling helps babies develop key movement skills
Around the web:
The Dyspraxia Foundation