By Vanessa Rasmussen
Fine motor skills are those skills which require a child to manipulate and gain control over a range of materials and tools. Fine motor control is the coordination of muscular, skeletal, and neurological functions used to produce precise movements (such as pointing to a small item with one finger instead of waving an arm toward the general area). These skills are often for communication purposes, both functional and expressive. For example, writing a name or message, manipulating a computer mouse, creating a sculpture, and soon.
The development of fine motor control in children is used to determine the developmental age of a child. Fine motor skills are developed through time, experience, and knowledge. Fine motor control requires awareness and planning for the execution of a task. It also requires muscle strength, co-ordination and normal sensation. The development of fine motor skills is crucial to an infant’s ability to experience and learn about the world and thus plays a central role in the development of intelligence.
There are chances that your child is not developing some of the fine motor skills as fast as other children his/her age. In most cases, this is a temporary set back and children catch up with their peers sooner or later. However, medical help should be sought if a child is significantly behind his peers in multiple aspects of fine motor development or if he regresses, losing previously acquired skills.
Encouraging development of fine motor skills requires a complicated process which also requires you to be extremely patient. It involves careful planning, time management and tools that enhance these skills in children. Be sure to include activities that your toddler enjoys, so that they can develop their fine motor skills without getting bored.
The following are some of the activities suggested to help your children gain fine motor control:
- Bake cookies with your children. Stirring batter provides workout of the arms and muscles and cutting and spooning out cookies can improve hand-eye co-ordination. Besides, the children get to eat their creation as well.
- Show them their favorite CD on the computer and encourage them to help you put the CD in the CD Drive. They can also use the mouse and keyboard which improves finger, hand and eye co-ordination.
- Encourage your children to paint and draw. Alternate between thick and fine brushes. Another trick is to paint with a cotton swab, this improves the pincer grip which later on aids the child in writing.
- Play with building blocks such as lego. Start with larger blocks and then move on to smaller blocks.
- Solve peg puzzles wherein the child can hold the knob and move the puzzle pieces around.
- Try threading colored pasta into a string. This activity requires a steady hand and a lot of balance.
Your child will find that developing his motor skills is more fun when he has a frequent change of position and activity.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.