Fine motor skills are very important for the development and growth of children. These skills refer to the ability to make movements by using small muscles of the wrists and hands. A child will use his or her fine motor skill while doing these activities –
Hold a pencil or pen
Use a keyboard
Write and draw pictures
Use rulers, scissors, other tools
These skills usually come so naturally to most children that we take them for granted. But it can be complex because it involves perfect coordination between the muscles and brain. Every person will develop the skill at their own pace. Some toddlers will start to acquire them around the age of 1 month, while it will be delayed in others. There are many good exercises that involve squish, squeeze, finger aerobics, and others that can help them in case there is a delay.
A delay can be a sign of a developmental coordination disorder. 5% to 6% of school-going children are affected by this. Signs of a fine motor skill problem could be problems in tying the shoelace, dropping items, trouble in coloring or writing, and problems in holding a toothbrush or spoon.
Top 10 Exercises to Develop Motor Skills in the Gym
Here are some fun activities to try if your child needs some help –
Painting – There are many types of painting that may improve the hand-eye coordination of a child. For example, they can use their hands while finger painting. Allow them to mess around. They can also use a brush, which will improve their skills of holding the brush. They will gain better control over the use of a tool. Scratch-and-sniff painting is very good for improving their sensory abilities.
Jungle gym – You can install a jungle gym in your home or in the backyard if you have space. It offers many benefits. This action gameplay will build hand-eye coordination, boost their imagination, bonding, sharing skills, and is also great for improving their physical skills and overall health. They will have fun and will also improve their self-confidence.
Nuts and bolts – Kids love to tinker. Give them nuts, bolts, washers in many sizes. They will apply many creative ideas and play with them and have fun. Add holes and metal cutlery holders. Show them how to thread the bolts before twisting the washers and nuts.
Scissor activities – Cutting activities will give the child’s muscles the exercise it needs to hold a pencil correctly. Of course, the scissor should fit properly into the child’s hand and he/she should be able to hold it correctly. It should rest comfortably between the index finger and thumb. Encourage the toddler to cut a magazine or junk paper. Tell him or her to shred or cut straws. There can be many fun activities with scissors.
Play-dough and putty – This is often an activity for developing sensory skills, which involves hearing, touching, taste, smell, and vision. It can also improve the fine motor skills of a child. It is a simple activity too. Children can be encouraged to use clay. Tell them to stretch, squeeze, pinch, roll, and create “worms” or “snakes”. They can do whatever they like. The kid may even use scissors for cutting the play-dough. Parental supervision might be required during the use of scissors.
Gardening and planting – This activity too is sometimes deemed more suitable for improving gross motor skills. However, it has many parts that need the proper use of smaller muscles. For example, there must be good hand-eye coordination when you are transferring seedlings to the garden because you must carry the small plants safely to their new holes. A child must also hold the trowel properly for digging and use the pincer grasp while picking up the seeds.
Locks and keys – Many children are curious about locks and keys. Have a basket with different shapes and sizes. This is going to encourage twisting action and it will also improve hand-eye coordination when they have to put the keys into the locks. You may even think of having a lock board where they can explore the many bolts and locks freely using their small fingers.
Pumpkins and hammers – This seasonal activity can be great fun. Here, you will need golf tees, pumpkins, and small hammers. Allow the child to hammer the tees into your pumpkins. This will be a very good exercise for improving their hand-eye coordination.
Once again, some parental guidance might be required because small kids may end up hammering their fingers or may try to pinch holes in the wrong places. It could be best if you make guide holes beforehand. If it is not pumpkin season, then your child can also play this game with watermelon or melon.
Playing with sponges – You will need a few simple things for this exercise – a clean and new sponge, two bowls, and some water. Fill the bowl with water. Keep the other bowl empty. Ask the kid to use water to soak the sponge and then squeeze it out into the second, empty bottle. This simple game will provide very good exercise to strengthen his or her forearms and hands.
Curtain rings, cup stands – This play activity will also improve hand-eye coordination. It involves a lot of matching and sorting that will do them a world of good. Have many wooden curtain rings in different colors and sizes. You will also need wooden cup trees where the child can hang the rings. Also, have a wooden kitchen roll holder that can be used for making the curtain ring sorting tower. This is a very good activity game for babies and very young children.
There are many very good exercises to develop fine motor skills in children. Always look for opportunities where the child can use small items, pull and push them with their fingers and hands to build strength and improve muscle movements. Help children develop fine motor skills. You can also ask the kid’s teacher to find if there are any areas of concern. Approach a pediatric occupational therapist for a deeper analysis.