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Developing Your Child’s Important Motor Skills

Many parents do not realise how important the development of their child’s fine and gross motor skills are in terms of their academic and physical performances. There are lots of games and activities which parents can do with their children to enhance their motor skills.

Writing and manipulating small objects are FINE motor skills. You can try the following activities to encourage your children to utilize and enhance their fine motor skills:

  • Blocks – start off with large blocks and as your child grows and develops use smaller and smaller blocks that require more control and steadiness of hand
  • Puzzles – start with large peg puzzles for younger infants. The large pegs sticking out of them require a full fisted grip. As your child grows he can move onto the puzzles that require him to use his thumb and forefinger grip (pincer grip)
  • Play dough – this is great for fine motor skill exercise especially if you add some extra equipment such as rollers and cookie cutters
  • Painting – swap between large and small brushes. Your child will need to use more control with their hands with the smaller, finer brushes. Cotton swabs are good to practise with too as they have small heads and demand finer work. This helps to develop your child’s pincer grip which will eventually be needed for writing
  • Cutting – using scissors requires a lot of coordination. You can buy them without any metal for younger infants who are getting used to manipulating them. Give them some old magazines and let them get cutting
  • Threading – you can use beads or coloured pasta. This does require a lot of control so is a perfect exercise to develop your child’s fine motor skills

Running, jumping and hopping are all GROSS motor skills. They require coordination and balance. To enhance your child’s gross motor skills you can try the following activities:

  • Climbing – take them to a kid’s jungle gym and let them climb and explore all over the place. Children have an instinctive desire to climb and begin as toddlers pulling up to stand with furniture. The more they try, the better they become, all the while developing their gross motor muscles
  • Running – this requires gross motor coordination so play games that encourage your child to run and move around speedily
  • Hopping – this develops balance so teach your child how to play hopscotch
  • Ball play – rolling, throwing, catching and kicking balls encourage gross motor development. With younger children start with larger balls but make sure they can pick them up. Smaller balls require finer control
  • Batting – this is hard for children to perfect but they should get practising. Begin with a thicker bat and work towards smaller ones as your child develops. You can play with baseball, tennis, golf and badminton bats as examples

Gross motor and fine motor skills develop in tandem. Lots of activities depend on the co-ordination of both areas of skills. At three months old you may notice your baby bringing his hands together over his chest and resting them (a gross motor skill) and then playing with his hands (a fine motor skill).

By Eirian Hallinan

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