The development of fine motor skills is an integral part of a child’s development. It is not only important for everyday living such as feeding yourself, doing up shoe laces and being able to pick small items up but can also impact on a child’s literacy skills if they are unable to hold and operate pencils and pens and other writing implements.
Fine motor skills are different to gross motor skills which involve larger movements such as running, jumping, kicking etc. Fine motor skills involve the muscles in the hands and fingers. Developing fine motor skills enables children to use a pincer grip which is when people can pick up and put down items using the thumb and pointer finger.
There are many really fun experiences you can do with your child to encourage fine motor skills and here are some of my favourites.
Playdough is valuable in so many ways. It not only encourages the use of fine motor skills through manipulating the playdough as the child pinches, rolls the playdough between their hands and models the playdough in to small pieces and attaching it using the muscles in the fingers but it is also a great sensory experience which is creative, can help to calm children and is fun.
Pegs are a perfect way to strengthen fine motor skills.
Simply give your child an ice cream container and fill it with pegs. Encourage your child to attach the pegs around the edge of the container.
You can also ask them to help with hanging out the washing.
Cutting with scissors
Allowing children to use scissors from a young age is so important. In the early stages it’s all about getting the strength in the fingers to be able to operate the scissors. Once they have mastered that, then it’s time to concentrate on learning how to cut lines, zig zags, circles etc.
Threading is a fun activity which takes great concentration and really tests children’s fine motor skills. You can drill some holes in bottle lids and thread shoelaces through the hole and as the child’s skills develop, you can move on to threading smaller beads or jewellery on to elastic to make necklaces.
Picking up small items
A great way of practicing fine motor skills without even knowing it is to give you child tiny pieces of food such as corn kernels and peas on their highchair tray or their plate (Without cutlery) and they can practice picking up the food pieces by using a pincer grip.
Drawing and Colouring in
Giving your child some paper and pencils is not only a creative and often calming outlet for your child, it is an early form of literacy. When children first hold a pencil, they usually use a palmer grasp and then move to the correct position as they gain more control over the pencils and strengthen their fine motor muscles.
Colouring in is an oldie but a goodie. It’s not important to colour in between the lines but if a child chooses to do so, it shows that they have great control over their fine motor muscles.
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