What is motor planning?

Motor planning is the ability to conceive, plan and physically execute a motor task with correct sequencing from start to finish. 

Stategies To Faciliate Motor Planning

  • Repetition, Repetition, Repetition!  The best way to learn or improve a skill is to practice it.  For a child who finds a skill challenging, in order for them to stick with it and work toward improving the skill it must be fun.  Children love to play and making things into games will help maintain their attention and increase their willingness to perform many repetitions of the desired task.  They should see it as play and not work!  Motivation is the key.
  • Break challenging motor tasks down into parts before working on as a whole i.e. if working on jumping jacks, work first on the motion of the arms, then work on the legs separately before combining the motions.
  • Slow the pace of the action-move slowly and deliberately to allow the child to process what you are doing.
  • Give the child time adequate time to respond before modeling the task or providing verbal directions again.  They may need increased time to plan and execute the movement.
  •  Use a mulitsensory approach to teaching.
  •  Use visual demonstration, verbal and tactile cues as needed.
  •  Progress from single to multi-step movements and directions.
  •  Most importantly praise your child.  Avoid negative language and body language.  If they do not perform as you wish do not tell them they did it “wrong”.  Try saying something like “great, let’s try another one like this…”

 Fun Motor Activities

1.  Obstacle Course

Create a multi-step obstacle course that incorporates a variety of movements.  Try including positional concepts such as in, on, over, under, next to, behind.

2.  Simon Says

Incorporate both symmetrical and asymmetrical movements i.e. place both hands on your head or one hand on your head and one on your stomach etc.  Also include midline crossing actions i.e. place one hand on opposite shoulder, touch one hand to opposite knee etc.  Also vary the pace between instructions.  Is it difficult for your child to respond when you increase the pace?  If so slow it down a bit and observe what happens.

3.  Red Light, Green Light

Incorporate a variety of movements i.e. jumping, hopping, skipping, galloping, walking backwards, sideways, heel walking, toe walking, bear walking, crab walking, etc.

4.  Balloon Ball

Tap a balloon back and forth with your child, trying not to let the balloon hit the ground.  Call out different body parts to tap the balloon with i.e. foot, knee, elbow, head, stomach etc.

5.  Vary Positions

Try playing a variety of games in different positions i.e. playing ring toss while standing on foot.

6.  Hopscotch

7.  Jump and hop in a variety of patterns.

8.  Hoola Hoop Blockers

Have your child stand in one hoola hoop and you a distance away in another.  One person tries to toss a bean bag into the other person’s hoop, while that person tries to stop it from landing in their hoop using their hands or other body parts to catch or deflect it.

9.  Instruments

Use music and rhythm to encourage various movement patterns.

10.   Magic Bicycle  

Child lies on back, lifts both legs and moves legs in a bicycle motion as they “ride” their “magic” bicycle to whatever destination they choose

Have them ride slowly i.e. going down a hill, quickly to “pedal” up a hill, put on the brakes unexpectedly etc.

11.  Foot Grab  

Child sits in chair or on floor (more challenging).  Place bean bags, small stuffed animals, soft/squishy balls etc. on floor.

Have child pick up objects by sliding feet together, lift feet up and place object in a shallow container placed to either side.

12.  Ball Lift with Feet  

Child lies on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor.  Place a ball or a balloon on the floor between their feet for the child to lift using their feet.  Have the child lift the ball with feet and catch it with hands.  

13.  Snake Charmer  

Have child lie on their back and play music.  As the music plays the child pretends to be a snake and lifts his/her shoulders and head from the floor.

When music stops child slowly lowers to the floor

14.  Broken Table  

Have the child assume a hands and knees position with their back flat not sagging.  Have child lift alternating arms or legs, progressing to lifting opposite arm and leg simultaneously while keeping back flat.

Lift arms and legs no higher than shoulder or hip height.

 Keep it FUN!


Helpful Speech/Language Website!

Another helpful speech and language resource is the website. This website is a great source of information for speech language pathologists that is often used for certification purposes but also contains a great deal of information for parents. Within the site there are answers to frequently asked questions, lists of accredited professionals and support, resources and information on language acquisition, delays and disorders. The website also provides a chart detailing typical child speech-language development.