Home | Resources | Motor Skills | Motor Planning
Motor planning is a set of skills that help us to coordinate movements, navigate obstacles and perform routine tasks. It is how we think of and understand (ideation) a motor task, plan out the order of steps to carry out a motor task (sequencing) and coordinate our muscles to successfully perform a motor task (execution). Motor planning skills are required to perform a range of gross and fine motor movements from climbing up a set of stairs or brushing your teeth.
As we grow older, motor tasks become more automatic because we have performed them so many times, we don’t need to consciously plan them as much. There may be some new things, like learning to drive a car, where we have to think and plan harder but for children, lots of things are new to them and require conscious motor planning to master the steps involved.
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. They may have trouble in the ideation, sequencing or execution of different motor tasks. Signs that your child may have motor planning difficulties include:
Children who continue to experience motor planning difficulties as they grow older may also develop low self-esteem, lack confidence and have difficulty making friends due to being unable to participate in the same activities.
Practising skills will help children with poor motor planning ability become more confident. There are many things you can do to help children improve their motor planning.
Thinking about all the different steps to complete a sequence of steps can be difficult for children with motor planning difficulties so keep language simple to help them better understand what they need to do to complete a task.
Guide your child through a task by providing one instruction at a time. This will help them to better follow instructions and reduce anxiety over learning a new skill.
Practice the individual movements that make up a task, gradually increasing the degree of difficulty as your child gains confidence in the simpler movements.
Create a chart with pictures of each step required to complete a task to help your child ideate and plan the actions.
Guide your child through tasks to help them build confidence.
Here are some exercises for children needing help with motor planning.
If you’re worried about your child’s motor planning, we recommend discussing this with an occupational therapist.
Learning Links’ multidisciplinary team of speech pathologists, psychologists and educators, in consultation with occupational therapists, have developed an online learning resource for parents and professionals to support children’s motor development and sensory regulation at home and in the classroom.
The Ready to Learn online learning resource is available in two age-appropriate packages – The Early Years and The School Years.
Balance is an important motor skill that helps children move around their environment to participate in activities for learning. Learn some simple activities to help your child build their balance.
We have some great tips and strategies for supporting your child through a meltdown and encouraging self-regulation.
Tips for parents to support their child with attention, organisation, planning and behaviour.
In our free monthly eNewsletter, you’ll receive interesting articles on learning, development and wellbeing, tips for supporting children at home or at school, program and online learning updates and the latest news from the Learning Links team.