‘Fine motor skill’ is the term used to describe coordination between muscles in parts of the body such as the fingers, with the eyes. Where ‘gross motor skill’ covers movements such as kicking, jumping, rolling or grabbing, fine motor skill requires that we use our body in a more delicate way. It is sometimes referred to as dexterity.
Children may show signs of developing their fine motor skills before they even begin to toddle, by using their pincer grip (thumb and index finger) to pick up small items such as food, and it is estimated that we master our fine motor abilities between the ages of six and twelve. Beyond this, we merely improve slightly.
Developing the fine motor skill is key to a number of things we do in life, including writing, sewing, building, modelling, using a keyboard or mobile phone and even eating. You can help your child to learn this important skill by doing a number of activities together.
Improving the Pincer Grip
Babies can sometimes pick up items, for example food, in their pincer grip but struggle to get it out of their hand, resorting to grabbing it in their fists. To help them improve their coordination, get some small soft treats that melt in the mouth (baby cereals or rice puffs are perfect) and scatter them on the tray of their high chair. Be prepared for mess as they scatter them about or drop them, but by encouraging them to pick up small items, they will be forced to discover their pincer grip and improve it to be able to enjoy the snack.
Using all their Fingers
When using a keyboard for a computer, young people often use one finger to type. Below the age of seven, they won’t have much to say anyway, but as soon as your child has learned the basics, encourage them to type with other fingers. Trying to make them a touch typist is slightly ambitious, but gets them to alternate between all of their fingers, one at a time if necessary, to get them used to using them all.
Let’s get crafting!
Craft comes in all kinds of forms, for example sewing, sequin art (using pins to pin sequins to a polystyrene shape – not for pre-schoolers, please supervise at all times!), painting or model making. Try something different every week, checking the activity is age appropriate and safe. Galt Toys has an amazing range of craft sets for both boys and girls, which will keep them amused for hours, and each activity should help your child become more proficient with their hands.
As soon as they can hold a pencil or pen without chewing it, get them scribbling on some paper with washable markers. Before you know it, young Picasso will have realised that if they are gentler, hold the pen differently, lift it up here and put it down there, they can make fabulous drawings, which will soon be covering every surface in your home.
Why not come up with some of your own fabulous fun activities for you and your little one to try together?