As promised in my previous post, we will now work on developing the fine motor skills. Let us start by first understanding what ‘fine motor’ skills really are.
Fine motor is the coordination of small muscles in movements with the eyes. They are controlled by the nervous system and aid in the growth of intelligence. They develop continuously as we grow. Fine motor skills are involved in the smaller movements that occur in wrist, hands, fingers, feet and toes. Some examples would be picking up things between two fingers, writing, holding a spoon and even blinking.
If you would have read one of my previous posts, you would remember that I talked about using the correct pencils as per your child’s age, so that the child uses correct pressure as his nerves and muscles develop. The muscles of the arms and shoulders develop first, while the hands and fingers take longer. It is imperative that we work on our child’s fine motor skills before expecting them write properly.
Let us start by focusing on the hand first. How do we develop the muscles of the hand? Here are some activities you can do with your child which focus primarily on the development of hand muscles:
- Hand painting– Help your child in creating cards or paintings using this technique. Dip their palms in various colours and ask them to imprint it on paper. You will see it requires a certain pressure of the hand to imprint. This could also be a good opportunity to teach your child about various colours and well, in my experience, children love doing this.
- Clay modeling– This technique works wonders for the hands and fingers. You can buy a ‘Play Dough’ that is safe for your child or you can make some at home. Head to the kitchen and knead some dough. Yes, the dough we make for our daily routine! To make it fun, add some food colouring while kneading it and let your child create shapes and figures with it. You could also provide a small rolling pin that will enhance their muscle development further. This will also unleash their creativity and you could teach them about shapes too.
- Sand modeling– If this summer, you’re heading out to the beach, or if you can take them to the park where they can find some mud, let them build something out of it. Children love playing outside and if you’re worried about them soiling their clothes, well I would say that you should watch them play and you’ll see how happy they will be. Let them enjoy a nice summer bath later, but first, let them play!
- Crumbling Paper- This one helps a lot with weaker muscles. Provide your child with an old newspaper and ask them to crumble it into the tiniest ball they can. Once they do that, they can paint it in different colours. To add on, give them a string and a wooden straw which isn’t sharp, to string these balls into necklaces or wall hangings.
- Squeezing the sponge- All you mothers out there, hear me out. I know your children are at home during summers and you are finding ways to keep them occupied. Also, I know you and your child want to spend time together. Here is one solution- ask them to help you out in some chores at home. Next time you’re cleaning some kitchen slab or table, ask them to squeeze a sponge and give it you. This helps in their fine motor development and they feel connected to you. Also, you are teaching them to be helpful and independent at a very young age.
- Water spray bottles– Now I am sure most of you have some beautiful plants in your gardens or balconies. Get some water spray bottles that are easily available in the market. From now onward, ask your child to help you in taking care of the plants. They can spray on the leaves and you can use this opportunity to teach them a thing or two about plants.
- Wiping with duster- Sometimes, hand them a dusting cloth, and ask them to help you in wiping the dust off a table or chairs in your house. Maybe after the family eats their meal, your child could just help in cleaning the dining table, while you clear up the leftovers. These type of activities not only help in their fine motor development, but also teach them to respect all kinds of jobs. They also learn to be helpful and humble.
- Kitchen tongs– take a box full of small assorted things like bottle caps, lids, small balls, etc. Provide your child with a tong which isn’t sharp. Ask your child to pick up things from the box and sort them. The pressure used to grasp things will help in fine motor development. This will also be a good lesson in sorting. Also, please don’t throw used bottle caps and other such things. They can come in handy for various activities. They could also use it while clay modeling to make various shapes and designs.
- Clothes’ pegs– Next time you’re putting your clothes out for drying, ask your child to help you in putting the pegs on them. Another activity where you can work with your child while doing your household chores.
- Threads or Velcro bands- Use these to play with. Make some patterns around the fingers with threads and pull, play some games with these and you’ll see how much the children enjoy it.
Apart from the activities mentioned above there are some more things that can help like squeezy balls, toys, pulling off tape, squeezing the glue bottle, bubble wrap, etc. Focus on things that use pressure of the hand to do things.
In my next post, I will talk about developing the finger dexterity or fine motor skills of fingers. Stay tuned!
P.S- Always appreciate your child. Even for the little things they create or do. This will go a long way and will keep them at it. I shall discuss this in one of my future blogs.