What are fine motor skills?
Fine motor skills are tasks that utilize the small muscles of the body like those in the fingers, hands and wrists. Children use their fine motor skills when writing, holding small items, buttoning clothing, turning pages, eating and cutting with scissors. Mastery of fine motor skills requires precision and coordination.
Development stages in fine motor skills:
Toddlers around a year of age are usually able to perform fine motor skills like holding a cup, grasping a spoon, picking up chunks of food and putting small objects into a larger container. Usually at this age, there is not that much involvement of the thumb.
As a child gets closer to 2 years of age, fine motor skill increases to include tasks like drawing with a crayon, using a fork or spoon with more precision and stacking small objects like blocks.
Closer to 3 and 4 years of age, children begin to master fine motor skills like zipping, snapping and buttoning clothing and drawing.
Around 5 years old, children improve their writing skills.
Around 7 years old, children master their writing skills.
Which activities help to develop good fine motor skills?
You can encourage your child’s development in this area by offering plenty of opportunity to practice.
Art activities like finger painting.
Playing with playdough are very effective at stimulating fine motor development. The child can roll, flatten, squeeze, cut or make a ball with playdough.
Purchase a set of small blocks.
Peg board puzzle, show your child how to use them and then allow him to play with them freely.
Finger games and songs and playing with fingers puppets.
Threading – Threading beads, macaroni, cotton reels, pieces of egg cartons to make necklaces, bracelets etc.
Draw on a whiteboard or blackboard. Use small pieces of chalk to enable children to hold it with a better grasp.
Avoid using the i-pad all day long as it does not help your child to develop his fine motor skills correctly. The child will only use his pointer when playing on the games!
With small children, you should try to avoid unwittingly doing things that might hinder fine motor development. For instance, if you regularly feed your child from a spoon, instead work on letting him pick pieces of food off his high chair or a plate. Allow your child to use a spoon as soon as he shows interest. If you feel like he’s not getting enough food in his mouth, use the first part of the feeding to spoon-feed him and let him finish up.