What Are Non-Locomotor Skills?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
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  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2019
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Non-locomotor skills include stretching, bending, twisting, and hand clapping. They consist of any motion of the body that doesn’t result in traveling from one place to another. Turning, foot tapping, and winking are examples as well. Like other types of motor skills such as walking and running, non-locomotor skills are developed beginning in infancy and advance through childhood. Many early education curricula include lessons on these skills; 21st century schools are recognizing the importance of helping children acquire those that are typical of each age group.

Swaying, curling, standing and getting into a particular posture are considered non-locomotor skills. One of the most important of these skills is stretching, not only for athletes, but for anyone engaged in activities that involve repetitive movement. Stretching prepares the muscles for activity and helps them wind down afterward. Injuries occur in every sport less often when the proper stretching exercises are performed before and after playing. In addition to protecting muscle, stretch exercises have health benefits including better blood circulation and flexibility.


Children between seven and eight years old can learn to pedal a bicycle, which is not a locomotor skill. A one month old can lift his or her head and follow objects, and after the second month can keep the head up for short periods of time while sitting up. These skills in children begin to develop during infancy. Various types of motor skills, therefore, can be observed and taught early on. After 10 months toddlers can squat and stoop, after 13 months it is typically possible to roll a ball, and after 18 months, pushing and pulling toys is possible.

Three and four year olds can often pedal and steer a tricycle. School curricula often correlate non-locomotor skills activities to the appropriate grades. This way, the proper age groups receive adequate instruction. The skills are taught through various activities which are sometimes perceived as fun for kids, but which have various health benefits and aid in their development. Each lesson can focus on a different skill or the movement of a particular body part.

Developing non-locomotor skills is a multi-step process that occurs throughout childhood. These skills, while not directly associated with traveling, include complex activities such as riding a bicycle and even hula hooping. Coordination is needed to master these skills. Even though certain skills considered typical for particular age groups, some children develop different skills at faster or slower rates than others.


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Post 4

@Ana1234 - Well, he is supposedly developing hand-eye coordination by playing video games and there are some you can get that will encourage him to move and stretch his body as well.

My friend has one of those systems and her kids are adorable when they are playing on it. They jump all over the place and mime throwing things and so forth.

It's no substitute for real exercise, but better than nothing. And there have definitely been studies which show that even on ordinary games, kids can improve their reaction times and things like that.

Post 3

@indigomoth - We have a six year old too and it's getting difficult to keep him developing his non-locomotor skills now, since he always seems to be glued to the TV or playing computer games.

We have to make sure he goes out for throwing sessions and bike riding (I didn't realize that was considered non-locomotor, but I guess it makes sense).

Hopefully as he gets older he'll appreciate it, but right now he acts as though it's just another chore to do.

Post 2

It was really fun watching my baby nephew grow up and checking out the different things he could do at different ages. I still remember how excited and eager we all were to get him crawling, but how much trouble he would get into (or at least try to!) once he managed the art of it.

It's hard to keep yourself from trying to push them, but it's almost sad when they do manage a new skill because, once he walks he may never need you to carry him again.

He's six now and still passing through milestones. Not quite so many obvious ones now that they mostly seem to be educational, but it's still a joy to see him discover the world.

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