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.