When kids begin to learn new skills repetition is key. This is how they learn what works and what doesn’t work and what they need to fine tune until they have mastered the key. For some kids repetition comes naturally, for some, they may need a bit more encouragement. Basically you need to figure out what motivates them. Over the holidays I was hanging out with my god daughter and I couldn’t help but push her gross motor skills a bit. (poor kid her mom is a speech therapist so she didn’t stand a chance with the two of us around!)
Some of the things we practiced were jumping, going down stairs and standing on one foot. Jumping as you can see in the video was easy to get the repetition. We put words to the actions, I showed her what to do and she mimicked me. She thought it was hysterical and wanted her dad to keep saying ‘bend-jump’. For that activity it didn’t take much to motivate her to practice the skill (she even got air a few times). With going down the stairs, I basically showed her once or twice on the bottom two steps how to hold her hand on the wall/rail and step down and she was just so proud of herself that my cousin reported she now only wants to walk down the stairs. Lastly, with the single leg stance we were playing with the stomp rocket so the toy itself was motivating. She loved ‘stomping’ on it and making the rocket fly. She even got good at putting the rocket back on the launcher (ok, she needed some help but she knew that it needed to line up).
For some kids, doing a novel activity is enough to get them to practice because they want to keep doing the new thing, especially when there is a ‘reward’ at the end (i.e. the rocket flying off the launcher). With tasks that aren’t as novel look for ways to change it up and make it fun. For instance, with stairs practice at the park or in the house or make little steps (using stools) that are a path they have to follow throughout the house. Change it up and add some fun and you’d be surprised at how quickly kids will engage!