Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

One of the nice things about being old is you get to be fascinated by seeing things that have been in place for thousands of years change rather dramatically in a relatively short period of time.

Although there were always a few exceptions here and there, a longstanding finding in the field of developmental psychology was that boys did better than girls in gross motor skills while girls did better than boys in fine motor skills. And the standard explanation focused on what probably was programmed into DNA as humans evolved. The male of the species had to chase the antelope across the savannah, so he developed his large muscles. The female of the species had to tend to the young, so she developed her small muscles.

Well, this idea has been debunked within the space of a generation or two. It used to be that we exclusively encouraged our little boys to throw balls and climb trees while we exclusively encouraged our little girls to have tea parties with tiny utensils and dress their dolls in small outfits. So it was practically inevitable that the boys would become more adept at activities involving gross motor skills while the girls would become more adept at activities involving fine motor skills.

In recent years the gaps between boys and girls in these areas have become substantially smaller. And this is not the result of genetic engineering. It is merely because many modern mothers and fathers are giving all their children the opportunity to engage in all types of activities that will allow them to progress in all aspects of physical development.

This is a delightful and extremely beneficial trend. And nowhere is it more evident than every day at Romp n’ Roll.

Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at