How to improve your child’s ability to follow a gross motor direction


If you’re happy and you know it


Everyone is familiar with this song…I think it is pretty safe to say…..and what a great song to work on following a gross motor directive (as well as body parts….read more below to find out why).  When working on following a direction….specifically your child’s ability to understand the language she hears….it is important that she is able to follow a gross motor direction.  WHY?….because before I can expect her to understand and follow a direction such as: give me the ball….or go get your shoes….I want her to be able to follow a gross motor direction.   When I say follow….I mean that she actually understands the language…the words that she hears…they have meaning to her…and they make sense…the words make sense.  Some little ones have difficulty even with a gross motor direction such as “clap hands”….even with the visual…you clapping your hands while saying “clap hands”….tying your words and action together….some little ones still have difficulty in understanding the verbal language.

So….when I am working with a little one…and she presents with delays with regard to her receptive language…her understanding of language…I look to see if she is able to follow a simple gross motor direction such as clap hands…or so big (asking her to extend her arms above her head)….and if she is not able to follow these directions….then I like to incorporate movement and music-tying them both together to help with understanding of language.

So singing the song If your happy and you know it will help her to understand and follow a gross motor directive….and by the way….Gregory is happy in the picture seen above…why?….because he is eating chicken wings…an absolute favorite of his…and if you want to know where they have the best chicken wings ever….Grumpy Jacks…  And Jack…was nice enough to share the recipe with me….he was not so grumpy that day!

Anyway…back to If you’re happy and you know it…try adding variation to the song:

If you’re hungry and you know it rub your belly

If you’re tired and you know it close your eyes

If you’re mad and you know it stomp your feet

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands

If you’re happy and you know it touch your head (and vary with other body parts)

If you’re happy and you know it make a kiss

If you’re happy and you know wave bye-bye

If you’re silly and you know it stick out your tongue

If you’re happy and you know it say mommy

If you’re happy and you know it say daddy

If you’re happy and you know do so big (pick your arms up over your head)

Remember tying music, action and words together will help you help your little one to understand language and follow directives.

Have fun!


About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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