6 Tips to support fine motor development.
What is fine motor skills?Fine Motor skills are those skills that require the small muscles of the hand to work together to perform precise and refined movements. Fine motor development begins in infancy when a baby first starts to tap/slap a toy and then progresses to grasping, releasing, and transferring objects between their hands.
They then move to use their fingers to manipulate and explore things, stack blocks, feed, manipulate small objects, and play. As time goes by and fine motor skills develop and mature, they start to use tools such as crayons, pencils, and scissors.
By the time a child goes to school, there are many fine motor skills that they generally demonstrate in a well-integrated way. Depending on the child's previous experience and exposure to different activities, the quality of these skills might vary; however, at this age and with ongoing stimulation, practice, and exposure, the quality of a child's fine motor skills will continue to develop through childhood.
Fine motor development relies on strong trunk and shoulder muscles to provide the necessary stability to perform fine motor tasks such as writing, coloring, and cutting with scissors. Poor posture and postural stability have a negative effect on the quality of fine motor skills. That's why it is essential to encourage gross motor activity to strengthen the large muscle of the trunk, shoulders, and other muscles that support postural stability.
- Dominance (left or right hand )
- Can use the tip of the fingers and the thumb together in a precise pincer grasp.
- Demonstrates a functional pencil grasp where the writing tool is held between the thumb and the index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger. This is called a dynamic 3 point grasp.
- They can draw basic shapes such as circles, triangles, squares, recognizable pictures like a person or a house. Usually, they are also introduced to basic writing, such as pre-writing patterns and lines, writing their names, copying numbers, and alphabet letters.
- They can hold scissors with appropriate grip and cut reasonable complex pictures such as a combination of straight and curved lines, as well as around corners.
- They can use both hands together during activities to stabilize one thing and do something else with the other hand, such as mixing in a bowl cutting with scissors, and closing a bottle's lid, among other things.
- They can manipulate small objects within their hand, and they can independently complete self-care activities like dressing, fastening buttons, and usually tie their shoelaces.
These are just some of the fine motor skills that kids from about six years can do.
How can we support Fine Motor Development?
If possible, try and incorporate gross motor activity in the period just before doing the fine motor skills to promote and involve the large muscles' movements such as the shoulders, upper arms, and the trunk. Activities that require some weight-bearing is a wonderful way to strengthen shoulder muscles and awaken them before doing fine motor activities. Encourage gross motor games and activities that require active movement against gravity.
Some great activities include:
- Gross motor activities (Wheelbarrow walking, Jumping on a trampoline, Crab walking, Pushups against the wall or from your chair).
- Playdough activities are an excellent way to activate the hand muscles for fine motor function.
- Scissor skills are an essential part of pencil grasp development. It is an easy, fun way to practice the hand muscles necessary for writing.
- Use a combination of methods to decorate pictures instead of just coloring. Strategies to improve pencil control and the fingers' dynamic movement include: tearing and pasting paper, rolling small balls with tissue paper, and practicing writing patterns. Using different methods to decorate a picture provides an opportunity to develop the hand muscles, but it also keeps the kids engaged and working hard without even realizing
- It's beneficial to do fine motor activities regularly instead of doing one activity for an extended period of time. Instead, do a short activity more often.
The WriteAbility fine motor resources aim to incorporate as many of these skills in a fun and easy way to aid your child's fine motor development. For more activity ideas, follow us on Facebook. www.facebook.com/WriteabilityOT
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