All children learn at different rates when it comes to developing their fine motor skills, and much will depend on the support they get with building this key skill. Fine motor skills refers to the ability to use small muscles in the hands and feet to perform controlled movements, and there are a number of ways in which they can be nurtured. Here’s some advice from a junior school in Somerset on activities you can do with your child at home to help them develop their fine motor skills.
Painting, colouring and drawing
Painting with different sized paint brushes will improve your child’s hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity as they learn to control them to make markings on paper or cardboard. They’ll gradually gain greater control using paint brushes as tools to paint a picture. Alternatively, finger painting is great for building on coordination skills, and your child will love getting their hands messy. Colouring and drawing are also good activities for developing fine motor skills as children learn to grip and control a pencil or crayon and use it to draw or colour in.
When your child is having a bath, give them a few different sized cups and encourage them to transfer water from one cup to the other. You could also give them a sponge and prompt them to soak the sponge in water and then squeeze it out into a bowl. This will help strengthen the muscles in their hands and forearms. Another option for enhancing fine motor skills is to give your child an unused eyedropper and encourage them to draw water into the dropper and squirt it into an empty cup. This will test and develop their pincer grasp.
Certain aspects of gardening require the use of fine motor skills; for example, transferring seedlings requires hand-eye coordination and your child will need to use a pincer grasp to transfer a tiny seed into a hole. They can also get involved in using a trowel to dig the hole, which will strengthen their hand and wrist muscles. You could then give them a small watering can and ask them to water the new seed with controlled movements.
Get the play dough out and encourage your child to pull it apart, squeeze and pinch it, and roll it out to make shapes. This will use small muscles in their hands, fingers and forearms. You could also give them some child-friendly scissors and prompt them to cut the play dough. Similar activities like making slime will also help develop their fine motor skills.
Any activity involving building with their hands will develop your child’s manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination; for example, building a tower out of blocks or making a model with small lego pieces will challenge your child to use their fingers to make small movements to put pieces together or take them apart.
As you can see, there are many ways to help your child build their fine motor skills, and they’re all activities which they’ll enjoy without even realizing that they’re learning new skills.