Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are important whether you have an infant, toddler or an older child. It is defined as the coordination between small muscles (hands and fingers) and the eyes. It is important at an early age to teach fine motor skills because they lay a foundation for academic learning in later years. Children of all ages are continuously working on these skills. Whether it’s an infant picking up food off a plate, a toddler learning how to use scissors, or an older child learning how to tie their shoes. Fine motor skills play a big role in all of those examples. Each task a child accomplishes contributes to enhancing those skills.
Why are fine motor skills important?
Fine motor skills are necessary in helping a child grow into a well-rounded adult. These skills are defined by dexterity, which is mastering skills, strength and control. Let’s look at why these skills are important. As a child grows they are expected to reach certain milestones, such as feeding and dressing themselves. When those skills aren’t there, a child’s self-esteem can suffer. As a result, the child’s play can become less frequent and their academic performance could eventually decrease.
How To Increase Fine Motor Skills
If that’s the case, what can we do to help a child increase fine motor skills? The answers are not complicated. Let infants feed themselves, use a spoon and drink from a cup. Let your toddlers scribble, make circles, color and draw. In my preschool we practice using scissors first by rolling out playdough like a long snake and cutting it with scissors. The kids love it and it’s a fun way to increase their skills. For older children it’s playing board games where they have to move pieces around the board. Also building towers with blocks or creating with Duplo Legos are fun ways to increase skills for all ages.
Different Types of Fine Motor Skills
The Pincer Grasp– When the thumb and forefinger are used to grab objects. Little ones will use this type of grasp to pick up food when they eat.
Filling and Dumping– Very common among little ones. My two year old granddaughter fills trucks, pails, cups and bowls up with whatever she can find.
Stacking and Building– Stacking up blocks or Legos as high as they can. My kids in my daycare stacked up the Legos as high as they could. When it got too tall they laid the stack on the ground and kept building.
Creativity– This aspect of fine motor skills I consider to be very important. Any time I could get a pencil, crayon, marker, scissors or glue stick in my preschoolers’ hands meant an opportunity for them to improve their skills.
Activities Made to Increase Fine Motor Skills
Building fine motor skills are important in the development of a child. Activities such as eating, getting dressed or playing board games are easy solutions to building these skills. If we are being intentional in building fine motor skills there are a lot of things you can do with your kids to develop their skills. The skills I work on the most with my preschoolers are fine motor skills. Kids are often given ample opportunity to practice gross motor skills.
I like to provide my students plenty of opportunities to cut. As I mentioned earlier, I like giving them play dough to cut. I also like to give them practice cutting sheets for projects they have to cut out themselves. I always tell them it does not have to be perfect, we are practicing. Thick lines can be drawn on paper in all sorts of patterns like zigzags and curves, as well as straight lines.
Kids love to use glue and glue sticks. My preschoolers love making projects with glue. Painting with a paintbrush, Q-tip or fork are great ways to increase their skills. I love stickers, especially sticker books where you have to find the stickers for each page. Putting stickers on correctly requires a lot of skill.
Puzzles are another great way to practice fine motor skills. Not only does a child have to figure out where a piece fits, but how it fits. Giving a child opportunities to color, draw and write are so important to help increase fine motor skills. Learning to write is an important skill so that a child’s hand will be strong and coordinated enough to use a pencil for long periods of time. Last but not least teaching your child to dress themselves along with learning to zip their coat and put their shoes on increases their skills. Fine motor skills promote independence which builds self-esteem and confidence.
Cook with your kids. Kids love to pour ingredients and mix up whatever is in the bowl. It’s a great way for them to improve the strength in their hands and arms.
Get the crayons, markers and chalk out. Draw, cut, scribble, play dress up and board games. Take them outside and trace an outline of them and let them trace an outline of you. Then spend time coloring in each of you. Fine motor skills are important but don’t let it become a big deal. Having fun with your child is what is most important. Remember everything they are doing takes practice. In the beginning pictures will be messy, writing will be wiggly and zipping will be hard. But that is why they are practicing. In time it will come naturally to them and you will be on to the next learning experience.
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