I’ve recently seen a lot of kids who have difficulties with motor planning. Motor planning is what allows us to move and helps us with learning new movements and activities. When we learn something new we have to really concentrate on it until we have it down pat. This is done by practicing. Just think back to when you learned to drive a car. It took all of your concentration, you couldn’t even hold a conversation. Now think about all the things you do when you drive – talk on the phone, eat, put make-up on, etc. We got to this level of comfort with this highly complex activity because we practiced it over and over until it was second nature.
For any child, not just kids with motor planning difficulties, practice is important. I often hear parents with concerns that their child isn’t riding a bike, or kicking a ball, or doing monkey bars as well as another little kid. They usually want to know if they should be worried. The first question I usually ask is how often they do that activity. If they never get on the bike or rarely kick the ball then its not surprising that this task challenges them more than their neighbor who does these things regularly.
The key to mastering a skill is to practice it over and over, just like playing a musical instrument or a sport. There will always be those people that pick things up naturally but they are not generally the norm, but rather the exception.
If your child does have some problems with motor planning it may look like they just can’t figure out how to do something. For example, they may want to climb up onto the couch but they don’t know what leg to move or where to push. If this continues despite them practicing it regularly then they may need a little extra help because its harder for them to problem solve the movement. If this is the case you may notice them avoiding higher level motor skills because they just can’t do them. Some examples for school age kids would be monkey bars, jumping jacks, jump rope, hopscotch, skipping, galloping, riding a bike, throwing and catching a ball, and dribbling a ball (these are just a few of the many activities that I could have possibly listed).
So, before you get overly concerned that your child is having trouble, get out there and practice it with them. Its a great chance for you and your kids to play together and to be active!