Touching your world: Fine motor skills
Babies are arguably born with the least amount of inborn instincts of any creatures on earth. While a baby calf can stand within hours of being born, it takes a baby months to learn to do the same.
Some suggest this instinctual “blank-slate” gives us an incredible capacity to learn. This learning isn’t only intellectual learning. We also have to learn how to sit, stand and walk. These are gross motor skills. Gross motor skills include kicking a ball, throwing objects, and riding a bike. Gross motor skills use entire body movement.
What are fine motor skills?
Fine motor skills are at play when kids are using their smaller hand, wrist and finger muscles. Fine motor skills are necessary for activities like buttoning a shirt. Or writing with a pen, or typing on a keyboard. When you need precision and control to do something you are exercising your fine motor skills.
The importance of fine motor skills
Fine motor skills could be an important indicator of later academic achievement. The struggle to hold a pencil with confidence can have a negative impact on a child’s early experience of school. This could be a factor in low motivation at school.
The relationship between language development and motor skill development is complex. Programs focusing on fine motor school development have seen encouraging results. Researchers saw an improvement in children’s academic achievement.
Helping to develop fine motor skills
There are many activities which primary school kids can enjoy that will develop fine motor skills. You can find videos and countless articles for fun ideas on the internet.
Dressing activities like buttoning a shirt, tying a shoelace, buckling a belt and zipping up a jacket are all examples of fine motor skills. If your child struggles with any of these, focusing on them is a good place to start.
Fun activities would include painting, playing with dough and drawing. Cutting shapes can be lots of fun too. Make a game of it: “let’s have a race to see who can cut 10 squares the fastest” (be careful!). Puzzles and connect-the-dot pictures are fun and creative sources that develop fine motor skills.
Having a “rice grain race” would be memorable too. See who can move the most grains of rice the fastest from one plate to another using tweezers.
Threading a needle requires very good fine motor skills. Knitting would be a great hobby for boys as well as girls. (It’s also said to be very relaxing and can reduce depression.)
If you are able to invest in age-appropriate building blocks do so. “Pick-up sticks” is an excellent example of a game that develops fine motor skills. Even getting a child to put toothpicks into a bottle will develop fine motor muscles. Card games also need both strength and control to put one card down and pick up another. Teaching a child shuffling can also impress friends.
The more you think about it, the more ideas you will have yourself. Learning an instrument would be a lifelong skill that requires precision and can mean hours of enjoyment. It can be a piano, guitar, violin or recorder.
All this goes to show…
There is a whole world of activities that can strengthen fine motor skills. This muscle and coordination development plays a vital role in academic performance. This role isn’t yet fully understood.
Playing some of the games suggested above with your child will enhance their fine motor skills. It will also be part of providing them with wonderful childhood memories and the emotional support they need.