Mastering motor skills – both fine motor and gross motor – are important to every child’s growth and development. Fine motor skills are those which use the hands, such as learning to wash their own hands, grasp a crayon or spoon, brush teeth, stack blocks, tie shoes, use scissors, or other hand-eye coordination activities.
Gross motor skills include crawling, walking up and down stairs, jumping, balancing, and those related to large muscles such as legs and arms. The learning begins as babies and continues through childhood.
Every child’s skills will develop at different rates. Mastering these skills will allow a child to perform important everyday tasks, assist them in school, and bring him or her greater independence, as they begin essential self-care skills.
Encouraging fine motor skills
The development of fine motor skills are the foundation of academic learning. For example, in order to learn to write, a child must first have the muscle strength in their hands and the hand-eye coordination to hold a pencil properly and steadily. The best way for you to help your child work on fine motor skills is to provide and promote play with any of the following: stacking blocks, Legos, tinker toys, crayons, markers, paints, glue, clay, scissors, sewing cards, puzzles, sand and water toys, musical instruments, and more.
Teaching the pincer grasp is one of the most useful fine motor skills. To help your child learn this skill, show them how to use their thumb and forefinger to pick up Cheerios, turn a dial, hold a crayon properly, or even pick up and put away their toys. Moreover, using a glue stick to paste things on paper, building a tower of blocks, tracing, and cutting paper will help them in the preschool years.
Painting with brushes or finger painting encourages self-expression, creativity, and also an opportunity to get messy, hold a brush as a tool, and strengthen hand-eye coordination. Stacking blocks helps with hand and wrist control. Most therapists will recommend a child build a tower of 10 blocks to successfully master this skill.
Rolling, stretching, smushing, and cutting Play-Doh is one way to try a sensory-friendly activity while also fine tuning motor skills. Playing with sponges, scooping water, or making a bucket of dry, uncooked rice or beans for scooping and sorting purposes can fine tune their skills. Building fine motor skills comes from squeezing sponges and scooping and transferring water/rice/beans. Your child needs hand-eye coordination for these activities.
Letting a child use utensils at mealtime, even if they are making a mess, will eventually allow them to figure it out on their own. Feeding oneself is an excellent skill to be learned!
Encouraging gross motor skills
Encouraging gross motor skills allow a child to pursue and participate safely in group activities, games, and sports. It will also help with their academic learning. Try these fun activities your child’s gross motor skills need a little extra help.
Trampoline play is a great gross motor, muscle-building activity. It improves balance, encourages sensory movement, and can help strengthen muscle groups. For a small child, begin with a trampoline that has a jump bar handle to hold on to for stability. Work up to indoor trampoline parks, which are a fun place to work on those social skills as well!
Draw a hopscotch game in sidewalk chalk outside in the driveway or at a playground. Hopping and jumping then bending to balance require strong gross motor skills. Swinging on a swing set and pumping legs back and forth helps develop balance and coordination.
Riding tricycles and scooters earns major gross motor skill points as they are all precursors to bicycle riding, which requires balance and coordination among others.
There are also plenty of indoor gross motor activities. Bouncing on a yoga ball or rolling a child’s around while on their belly on a yoga balls is great for core stability and balance and conquering any issues with unstable surfaces/movements.
Dance parties are always a good way to develop rhythm, adding movement with song lyrics, working on coordination, and sequencing skills with some Simon Says. Just like you would outdoors with running and jumping activities, you can create an indoor obstacle course using pillows and furniture and areas for balancing, walking, and jumping
Work on motor skills with Integrity
Children develop motor skills at different rates. There are many child-friendly places for your children with disabilities to visit in Little Rock to work on these skills. If you are looking for occupational therapy for children with disabilities in Little Rock, then contact Integrity, Inc. at (877) 452-9504.
Integrity Day Care provides a nurturing center for regular daycare as well as for children with special needs. Visit our website, or call us to learn more about how Integrity offers appropriate care and services for developmentally disabled children in both our foster care programs and special needs child daycare in Little Rock. Check out Integrity’s Blog to read about our excellent children’s services.