Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscle of the hands, commonly in activities like using pencils, scissors, doing up buttons and opening lunch boxes. Fine motor skill efficiency significantly influences the quality of the task outcome as well as the speed of task performance. Efficient fine motor skills require several independent skills to work together to perform certain tasks. Fine motor skills are essential for performing everyday tasks as well as academic skills. Without the ability to complete these everyday tasks, a child’s self-esteem can suffer, their academic performance is compromised, and their play options are very limited. They are also unable to develop appropriate independence in ‘life’ skills, such as getting dressed and feeding themselves, which in turn has social implications not only within the family but also within peer relationships. We’ve curated simple ways you can help develop and improve your little one’s motor skills.
Do puzzles together. Picking up and moving puzzle pieces into place helps develop pincer grasp. Watching or helping your child learn how to complete puzzles can sometimes be frustrating, they can be impatient and give up easily, lose pieces or put them in their mouth. But if you stick with it, the reward that comes from it is worth it. Engage with and encourage your child as much as you can to complete easy puzzles at first and then progressively harder one’s, doing this will improve their hand-eye skills, co-ordination, and motor skills. Watching the smile and sense of satisfaction that your little one will get from completing a puzzle provides tremendous satisfaction for parents.
Draw, Colour & Paint
Encourage your child to draw, colour and paint. This helps not only their fine motor skills but also creativity and imagination too. Try different types of painting and different mediums, like crayons, chalk, finger paints, brush painting or charcoal, to spark their interest and strengthen your child’s hand-eye coordination. Painting with a paintbrush helps kids learn to hold a brush and gain greater control using things in their hands including pencils and other items. Paint-by-number can be an excellent form of brush painting for young children
Building Blocks & LEGO
Stack, connect and build things together with blocks and LEGO. These activities encourage fine pushing and pulling movements. LEGO is also great for fostering creativity. Building with LEGO is an effective way to work and develop your child’s fine motor skills. As children build and even pick up LEGO pieces they will, build stronger muscles in their hands and improve co-ordination, this will help them to improve with other skills, such as learning to hold a pencil and learning to write. Other skills children can learn from playing with LEGO include persistence, a sense of accomplishment and an improved ability to solve puzzles.
Cut With Scissors
Learning to cut using scissors develops your child’s fine motor skills and coordination. Because they are developing muscles they haven’t used in this way before, it requires lots and lots of practice. Be patient and encouraging as you help them learn to use scissors. You can draw shapes for your child to cut around. Make some paper snowflakes. Even cut play-dough. Make sure you use age-appropriate scissors, communicate and demonstrate scissor safety often while working with young children. You may feel like you’re being repetitive, but that’s okay because they need it. Begin with the basics such as the purpose of scissors. Scissors are for cutting paper and nothing else. Make sure they do not use scissors without adult supervision until you feel they’re ready and never allow them to walk with scissors in their hands.
A new, clean sponge, some water and two bowls are all you need for another activity to build fine motor skills. Fill a bowl with water and leave the other empty. Your child can soak the sponge in the water and then squeeze out the sponge into the other bowl. It’s a simple game that can strengthen hands and forearms. Make bath-time a place for fine motor skills practice, water play with sponges is a fantastic way to help your baby develop her fine motor skills as she learns to squeeze water from a sponge or water toy. Offer your baby a variety of sponges to squeeze and play with, but be sure to make them small enough for her little hands to handle and use successfully. For a greater challenge, invite her to aim and squeeze water into small cups as she increases her small muscle strength and dexterity. Add some bubbles to the bath for a special treat and encourage your child to ‘draw’ a picture on the wall using just the bubbles.