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Motor Planning

Children who easily get in a muddle or have difficulty dressing, writing or learning to swim or ride a bike often have a problem with motor planning.

When a child has poor motor planning ability, they often try to instruct themselves in what to do and rely on a visual demonstration of a skill. They can also have difficulty doing two actions at once and make excuses not to try new things.

Practising skills will help children with poor motor planning ability become proficient.

To help a child learn new skills and improve motor planning, it is a good idea to use simple language and break down skills into small steps. When teaching a skill, start with a movement that the child is likely to achieve and gradually increase the degree of difficulty. Give the child physical assistance if required.

Here are some exercises for children needing help with motor planning.

  • Obstacle courses – arrange some obstacles for children to walk around or climb over.
  • Ladder walk – let the child try to walk between the rungs forward, backward and sideways, then carrying something such as a beachball or box.
  • Stepping in and out of boxes.
  • Walking along a straight line, a zig zag line and a circle.
  • Running and walking while keeping a balloon up in the air.
  • Sitting on a scooter board.
  • Riding a bike or a tricycle.
  • Roll the child in a sheet or large towel and let them unroll.
  • Let the child roll along floor or down a slight incline.

If you’re worried about your child’s motor planning, find out more about how our Occupational Therapy program could help.

The information in Learning Links’ Tip Sheets is prepared by experienced early childhood professionals. Each child is unique and this material is not necessarily suitable for every child, parent or carer.
We recommend you discuss this information with your child’s therapist or education professional
prior to using these tips.