Term ‘Fine motor skills’ might sound very uninteresting. Most of us would like to skip this article as it sounds very dull but actually it is of vital significance for young children.
I noticed during birthday parties and other gatherings that hand writing was a major concern for most of the mothers. Mums were working hard to make their children practice forming correct strokes and a perfect alphabet. A grand mom found pride in sharing the exquisite writing skills of her two year old granddaughter and how she could write 1, 2 and 3 perfectly. No one knows for how many hours the young child had to sit and practice making perfect numbers, just to make dadi happy. This fetish can be justified to a certain extent as in board exams children with neat hand writing score extra points. After all the examiner should be able to read the answers to give marks . A good handwriting is synonymous to a good student- this has been deep rooted in our psyche. I can say that we are conforming to this norm for ages. But is it a correct thought? If it is correct and handwriting is of utmost importance then are we adopting right methods to improve it ? Is it correct to pressurize the child to form an impeccable stroke? We need to pause and think….
Some children face difficulty in learning how to write (holding pencils in correct manner, forming strokes, writing long sentences, lack of proper grip). This means that the child has not developed proper pre writing skills. It is an area where parents can help the child rather than nagging about it. Proper development of fine motor skills is imperative to perform the day to day tasks independently. Example- We can often see children struggling to tie shoe laces despite tireless efforts.
What are fine motor skills-Fine motor skills are the small movements of the fingers which require the use of small muscles. Good fine motor skills help the child in learning to write easily. A Child can also perform day to day activities like buttoning/ unbuttoning of clothes, tying shoe laces etc very confidently.
Stages of development-
Stage 1– Children start using the shoulder movement to perform a task. For example. Throwing a big ball, scribbling on a slate using shoulder movement. Many children start scribbling with both hands.
Stage 2– Children can use their elbow and wrist movement for colouring, painting etc
Stage 3– fine motor skills are developed for precise movements which require hand eye coordination. Now child is adept in using fingers to perform a task. Example- beading, writing, picking small objects etc
Why children do not have age appropriate fine motor skills –
An interesting observation was made- children who came from underprivileged background had excellent fine motor skills. The reason behind this was that they were doing their everyday activities independently. They were not assisted by an adult to perform these tasks. A child cannot reach stage 3 directly. Expecting a child to write perfectly without having appropriate fine motor skills is like expecting an adult to learn Mandarin in a short time.
Fine motor skills can be improved by simple activities which allow children to use their small muscles. In easier terms -these activities let the child use his fingers. So we should encourage the child to perform these activities on their own-
Here is a list of 26 easy fine motor skills activities–
- Using spoon/ fork while eating
- Tying shoe laces
- Zipping/ unzipping of their bags; buttoning/unbuttoning of shirts
- Opening/ closing of boxes or jars
- Opening the lock by putting keys in keyhole
- Watering plants through spray bottles
- Sorting colorful buttons/ stones
- Putting rubber bands on roll of chart papers
- Using child friendly scissors to cut paper
- Transferring water from one bowl to another with help of sponge
- Playing games like mechanics which have nuts and bolts
- Popping Bubble wrap-now set aside the bubble wrap from packing material of new electronics for this activity
- Scribbling on slates (using colourful chalks)
- Playing with Lego blocks
- Stringing big beads together- Macroni/Penne can also be used to make it interesting
- Newspaper crumpling and throwing it on a target
- Writing on a sand tray with a finger. Flour can also be used instead on sand.
- Put shaving foam in a zip pouch, let the child make alphabets by pressing it.
- Putting pegs on paper plates or a hanger
- Dropper painting
- Using forceps to pick chickpeas, beans / sorting mixed pulses
- Bindi /sticker art
- Scooping bottle caps from sand tub/ sandpit
- Playing with wooden knob puzzles- putting pieces back in the grooves
- Putting coins in a piggy bank
- Playing with play dough- rolling pin and moulds improve the finger movements.
By doing these simple activities we will see a remarkable difference in writing skills (also fine motor skills) of a child. Be considerate and remember that constant criticism and peer comparison won’t help the child.
(This post has already been published on http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/3cs-children-competition-and-compassion/article/does-your-child-have-good-fine-motor-skills)