Here’s my simple guide to fine motor skills and how you can help your child develop their fine motor skills through play.
What are fine motor skills and how do we develop them?
What are fine motor skills?
Gross motor skills refer to the big movements we make with our bodies, using our arms and legs.
Fine motor skills refer to the movements we make using the small muscles in our hands, wrists, fingers, and toes.
What do we need fine motor skills for?
To have an idea of the range of movements included in fine motor skills, think about how you use your hands to do the following tasks:
:: tying your shoelaces
:: fastening a button
:: writing with a pen
:: cutting with scissors
:: drawing with a ruler
:: peeling stickers
:: whisking up pancake batter
:: kneading bread
All these pinching, twisting, kneading, squeezing, threading, pulling, and holding movements are using fine motor skills.
How do we develop fine motor skills?
All of the above activities are things that most of us take for granted but they can be a challenge for some people.
Certain impairment and illness can affect fine motor skills, and fine motor skills difficulties can also be a sign of developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) or dysgraphia / dyspraxia. Occupational therapy (OT) can be of help in these circumstances.
We are also seeing more and more children with poor fine motor skills who have no impairment or illness. Their lack of fine motor skills can be caused by lack of opportunity to practice the movements that support good hand and finger development.
How a child spends their early years can have a big impact on their fine motor skills.
Senior paediatric doctors have warned that overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing some children’s finger muscles from developing sufficiently to enable them to hold a pencil correctly.
The good news is that, for most children, we simply need to give them regular opportunities to practice fine motor skills movements to allow them to develop their skills. And the best and easiest way to develop fine motor skills? Play!
By offering our kids a childhood full of hands-on, active play using things like play dough, paints, and blocks, we’re giving them plenty of opportunity to work through the range of hand and finger movements that are vital for their development.
Daily play times with sensory play, loose parts, and arts and crafts are exactly what children need for healthy development – and NurtureStore is full of simple, fun ways you can offer your children these play opportunities.
Which activities are good for developing fine motor skills in children?
The top three things I recommend to help your child develop their fine motor skills are:
:: sensory play using play dough and loose parts. Click here to see my top ten sensory play activities for fine motor skills.
:: arts and crafts using pens, paints, scissors, stickers, glue sticks, and other simple materials. Click here to see my top twenty arts and craft activities for fine motor skills.
:: joining in with everyday tasks such as chopping vegetables, washing up, using a dustpan and brush, gardening, and pegging up washing. We need fine motor skills to be able to carry out our everyday tasks – and so everyday tasks are a great way to develop them! Let your child be your helper alongside you in tasks and they will grow in confidence, independence and aptitude.