Action Brief: Gross Motor Development and Fine Motor Coordination

The pre-primary years are a critical period for motor development. Gross motor skills (big muscle movements) play an integral role in the development of children’s movement patterns. Fine motor skills (small muscle movements) in this age group are important for developing future skills such as writing and self-care.

According to the Thrive by Five Index, 48% of children were On Track for Gross Motor Development (48%) with a substantial number of children are either Falling Behind (24%) or Falling Far Behind (27%) for this developmental domain.

Children did not fare as well with Fine Motor Coordination and Visual Motor Integration, with less than a third (30%) of children On Track for this developmental domain, and even more Falling Behind (35%) or Falling Far Behind (35%).

It is concerning that less than half of the children have Gross Motor Development skills to equip them for movement and physical activity. The overall picture of children’s FMC-VMI is even more troubling – 70% of children will likely struggle with educational activities requiring fine motor skills.

Full analysis of the findings, as well as proposed actions to remedy the status quo, is provided by Dr. Catherine Draper, an Associate Professor in the MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit. Dr. Draper led the development of South African 24-hour Movement Guidelines, and was a member of the WHO Guideline Development Group for physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep in children under 5.

Download the full Action Brief here.