Every time your baby uses their muscles to move, they are using their motor skills. When your baby is newborn they have no control of their movements but as they grow, they develop their motor skills, starting at the top of the body and moving down.
Fine Motor Skills
These are the smaller movements your child makes. When your baby moves their lips, tongue, toes wrist, hands, fingers etc, they are utilising their fine motor skills. Every time they eat or 'gum' an object, wriggle their toes or handle a toy, they are using the skills.
Gross Motor Skills
Larger movements made by your baby's arms, legs etc use their gross motor skills. As your baby develops, so does their control of these skills and their ability to use them; sitting up, crawling, walking, lifting etc.
How to Help
Allowing your toddler / child to feed or drink themselves, aids hand-mouth coordination and to develop you child's oral motor skills. I have concentrated on activities that can help younger children's development, but on some of the websites there are guides for older children.
- Scissors Allowing your child to practise cutting paper and card is a very beneficial tool for them. As your child grows, there are cutting exercises that they can complete to develop their skills further.
- You will need to show your child how to hold the scissors correctly. Their hand should be tilted to the side with their palms facing each other; thumbs should be on top. Their thumbs should be placed in the smaller opening and fingers in the larger opening. Start by getting them to try and cut and to get used to opening and closing the blades. Once they have established the skill, you can move onto the cutting exercises above.
- Play-dough What a wonderful tool to help develop your child's skills. These 3 websites have instructions for making your own home made play-dough: Instructables, Kiddin' Around and The Fabulous Moms Guide. Let your child help to mix the play-dough. Some activities that your children can play are listed on 'OT Mom Learning Activities' website.
- Handy-bag Hunt Tactile Perception is an important tool for your child. Their fine motor skills are enhanced by feeling the objects in the bag whilst developing their touch-to-brain communication. OT Mom Learning Activities has some great ideas for handy-bag hunts.
- Threading I bought a jar of beads and laces, which my children use to make necklaces. Threading the beads develops not only their fine motor skills but also their hand-eye coordination, which is invaluable. You can also use lacing cards, as the benefits are equal to beads.
- Drawing and Painting Finger painting is a great way to get your child to understand their hand's movements and hand coordination as they coat with paint and then draw.
- Using crayons is a simple way of developing their fine motor skills. You will need to teach them how to hold the crayon correctly, as all young children start with a fist grip. Initially, show them how to hold it between their thumb and forefinger.
- Toys There are many toys that will aid development of their motor skills. Toddlers and young children should be offered soft books, dressing up clothes (especially with buttons) or dolls and clothes, sorting and stacking toys as they also aid balance, puzzles (particularly with pegs on top for them to pinch hold of) and balls (to grasp and hold).
There are countless other activities that can aid your child's motor skills development. Perhaps I shall do another feature soon, for slightly older children!