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Encouraging fine motor skills development in children

Miniland Educational: Playing today, for tomorrow

By Miniland

September 12, 2017

8 Minute read

As adults, we don’t really think about our fine motor skill use; we type, do up buttons, lace thread through needles and draw without too much of an issue. However, these simple tasks are quite daunting for toddlers and it can take ages for them to be perfected.

Fine motor skills relate to the control of the small muscles in your child’s hands that help them to control small movements every day. These muscles are responsible for things like picking up objects, drawing, eating with utensils and getting dressed. It’s imperative that you start to encourage the development of fine motor skills in your children from a young age.

Some children take longer than others to learn, and it shouldn’t be an immediate concern, but if you find your child really struggles with basic tasks, then you should see your local GP just to be sure.

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It’s important to understand the building blocks for the development of fine motor skills in children before you can get them started. According to Kid Sense, these are the main building blocks for fine motor skills:

  • Bilateral Integration: Using two hands together with one hand leading (e.g. opening a jar lid with one hand while the other hand helps by stabilizing the jar).
  • Crossing midline: The ability to cross the imaginary line running from a child’s nose to the pelvis that divides the body into left and right sides.
  • Hand and finger strength: An ability to exert force against resistance using the hands and fingers that allow the necessary muscle power for controlled movement.
  • Hand-eye coordination: The ability to process information received from the eyes to control, guide and direct the hands in the performance of a task such as handwriting.
  • Hand dominance: The consistent use of one (usually the same) hand for task performance which allows refined skills to develop.
  • Hand division: Using just the thumb, index and middle finger for manipulation, leaving the fourth and little finger tucked into the palm (not participating but providing stability for the other 3 fingers).
  • Object manipulation: The ability to skillfully manipulate tools (such as the ability to hold and move pencils and scissors with control) and the controlled use of everyday tools such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, and cutlery.
  • Body awareness (proprioception): Information that the brain receives from our muscles and joints to make us aware of our body position and body movement, so we can accurately control our movements.

What activities and exercises can you use to encourage your children to develop their fine motor skills?

The important thing when it comes to encouraging motor skills development is to get your children to use the hands for small tasks, while they are having fun. Children learn best through games and activities, and fine motor skills development is no different.

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Threading and lacing:

Threading beads and blocks onto strings is a great way for children to learn how to use their hands in a more controlled way. Make sure to change up the size of the string, thread and beads to add variety to the movements.

Tongs or other object squeezers:

Squeezers or tongs can be used to pick up a variety of objects and help children learn how to control their muscles relevant to the size of the object. Marbles are always a great choice.

Manipulation games:

Manipulation games such as ‘Connect Bears’ and other games that encourage children to use their hands to string things together and build are excellent ways for children to concentrate and be patient while learning how to use their hands correctly.

Construction:

Construction toys like Lego and building blocks are a fun and interesting way for children to use their hand while also learning skills like problem-solving.

Craft:

Get your children to create things using old boxes, egg cartons, wool, paper, sticky tape and a number of other arts and crafts things that are bound to be lying around your home.

These are some of the best ways to get your children to work on their fine motor skills development that will benefit them throughout their lives. We have developed a range of Miniland educational toys that were created specifically to help the development of fine motor skills and other important development milestones for children. Feel free to contact us for more information about our products or service.

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