As parents we know that our kiddies develop at their own pace and you can’t begin to compare another child to your own. You might have heard about motor skills from your child’s paed or the nursery school teacher but not really given it too much thought or even considered how you can get involved in encouraging your little one’s development.
Motor skills are an important aspect of the development process and are usually divided into two categories: fine and gross. Fine motor skills are those that involve delicate processes, often using the hands and fingers. Picking things up, pulling apart, pointing and using the thumb/forefinger together are all examples of fine motor skills. In contrast, gross motor skills are those which engage the child’s whole body – walking, running, rolling, sitting up. Both are important and luckily there are activities you can do to encourage each.
To help you get started here are some fun activities for kids that encourage motor skills and are great to try at home.
- Fine Motor Skills Development: Pasta necklaces
One great way to get your toddler to start using her fingers and thumbs is to get creative. Lots of crafty activities will get them using these particular skills, but if you don’t know where to start try making a pasta necklace. This is great for practicing fine motor skills; painting, threading and tying all put those fine finger movements into action.
Start by searching the kitchen cupboards for some fun pasta shapes. Long hollow ones work best of course. Next help your child to paint the pasta pieces in bright colours. When dry, thread them onto some string and tie around their necks. Kids will love wearing them around the house, but these work great as presents for grandparent too!.
- Fine Motor Skills Development: Dough animal modelling
For slightly older children needing to practice fine motor skills or those with an artier personality, modelling animals from dough is a great activity.
Give each child a lump of dough and challenge them to make a model of their favourite animal, or provide pictures (simple cartoons work best) then see who can recreate them best. This is a great activity for fine motor skills as the detail required for tails, manes, spots and eyes gets children practicing small, delicate finger movements involving their forefingers/thumbs and also requires strong hand-eye coordination. Once finished leave the dough models to dry and then display them proudly on bookshelves or mantelpieces!
- Gross Motor Skills Development: Push/pull toys
So, you’ve got fine motor skills sorted, now for the gross ones. A great place to start is push/pull toys. These are perfect for younger toddlers, especially those still crawling or unsteady on their own two feet.
You probably have this kind of toy at home already: think wooden trucks, plastic cars or even mini rocking horses. Each of these requires coordination and balance, which are prerequisites for gross motor activities like walking or jumping. Encourage your child to play with these toys and it will develop the muscle strength they need to get them up and about independently.
- Gross Motor Skills Development: Homemade obstacle courses
This is a fun activity and one that lets you get a bit creative too. Homemade obstacle courses are great for gross motor skills because they challenge little ones to use a wide variety of different muscles and get practicing a whole range of necessary skills like weight-bearing and balance.
To create such a course, use an open space in your house or garden and get pillows, sheets, soft chairs and boxes to create a challenging course. If you have a few children put them in teams to compete with each other, or time each kid and challenge them to achieve a personal best.
Those are just a few fun activities to help kids develop key motor skills, both gross and fine. Get creative and who knows what other activities you might think up too!
(Image credit: Pioneer Library system)