From the time you wake up until you go to bed at night, you’re performing activities that require fine motor skills. You use the small muscles in your hands for almost everything — from buttoning your pants and tying your shoes to cooking dinner for your family.
As a parent, you’ve had many years to hone your fine motor skills to complete these tasks with ease. Your children, however, are still developing these abilities. Giving your child opportunities to practice their fine motor skills helps them become more independent while getting ready, performing tasks at school, and other daily activities. This guide will explain how to develop fine motor skills in your child by incorporating fun activities into your regular schedule.
What Are Fine Motor Skills?
When you move the small muscles in your hands and wrists, you’re using fine motor skills. These abilities start developing in the first months of life and continue to improve throughout childhood. Fine motor skills are essential for completing a wide range of activities like:
- Drawing with crayons.
- Building with blocks.
- Writing with a pencil.
- Cutting with scissors.
Fine motor skills develop naturally over time with practice and repetition. Peeling an orange may seem easy to you, but this action requires your brain and muscles to work together seamlessly. The process becomes even more complex for tasks like writing.
Fine Motor Skills Developmental Milestones
Every child develops at their own pace, but most will reach certain milestones at similar ages. However, some children may have greater challenges developing these skills. An estimated 5%-10% of elementary school students are developmentally delayed. Early intervention can give these students the extra support they need to thrive. Recognizing these fine motor milestones will ensure that your child is progressing at the right pace:
- Baby: In the first six months of life, your child will attempt to reach for and grasp objects. They may grab your finger, pull out their binky, or try to hold their toys. By the end of the first year, they should be pointing with their fingers, putting food in their mouth, and picking up their toys.
- Toddler: By age 2, children have developed grasping functions and start learning more coordinated tasks. They’re able to scribble with crayons, build towers with blocks, throw a ball, use utensils to eat, turn pages in a book, and hold their sippy cup.
- Preschooler: Children in preschool that are 3 or 4 years old can do more tasks independently. They can get dressed and undressed, eat meals without help, cut with safety scissors, work on art projects, and play with more advanced toys by themselves.
- Kindergartener: When a child turns 5, they have developed complex fine motor skills essential for school. Kindergarteners use these skills to learn how to use a pencil correctly, write in a straight line, copy numbers and letters, draw specific shapes, cut and paste figures, draw recognizable pictures, and many other basic skills.
- Elementary schooler: By the time your child graduates elementary school, they have fully developed their fine motor skills and are learning how to use them for detailed classwork and complex activities. These children are perfecting their ability to write clearly on lined paper, tie their shoes, and play tactile sports.
How to Support Your Child’s Development
The best way to support your child’s motor skills development is with hands-on learning. While it’s often faster and easier to help them with everything like putting on their clothes and brushing their teeth, letting them handle these tasks by themselves can help support their progress. The following strategies assist with building on basic skills and developing fine motor skills in children:
1. Choose Tactile Toys
Giving your child age-appropriate toys that encourage hand movement can help them strengthen their muscles and fine motor skills. Building blocks, toys with buttons and switches, lacing toys, and stacking rings are fun and enriching ways to support your child’s development.
2. Embrace the Mess
Some children could spend hours building block towers and knocking them over or filling a bucket with toys and dumping it out. While these actions may create a mess temporarily, the repetition of stacking the blocks or collecting the toys enables children to strengthen their grip and flex their fingers. These games may seem dull or chaotic, but they can help with developing fine motor skills in children.
3. Encourage Creativity
Painting, coloring, drawing, and other arts and crafts projects are the perfect hands-on activities to help kids strengthen their fine motor skills. These activities allow them to practice using their hand and wrist muscles to express their inner creativity.
4. Be Patient
As a parent, it’s hard to watch your child struggle. You may feel the urge to jump in and help when they become frustrated. However, it’s important to give your child a chance to figure things out for themselves. Give them time to practice, and you’ll eventually see significant improvements in their fine motor skills.
Activities to Encourage Fine Motor Skill Development in Kids
Many everyday activities like eating and getting ready for the day provide easy opportunities to practice fine motor skills. However, if you want to find out how you can increase the motor skills in your child with more exciting methods, these fun activities can help:
- Playing with playdough: Playdough is a fun and versatile material suitable for children of all ages. Young children can practice rolling, tearing, and squeezing this material to develop fine motor functions. Older children can practice more complex movements by sculpting detailed shapes, animals, and people.
- Assembling puzzles: You can choose puzzles in varying shapes and sizes to match your child’s stage of development. Giving your child an age-appropriate puzzle will stimulate their minds and let them practice manipulating the pieces with their hands.
- Playing board games: Board games with playing cards, pawns, spinners, and dice provide a tactile experience to teach your child how to follow directions, strategize, and utilize their fine motor skills.
- Visiting the playground: Taking your children to a playground with a sandbox, tic-tac-toe panel, rock climbing wall, rope ladder, or monkey bars gives them plenty of opportunities to practice their fine motor skills while playing with friends.
Setting Up Student Success at Commonwealth Charter Academy
At Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), we customize our student-centered curricula to your child’s capabilities. The flexibility provided by online learning allows us to accommodate the unique needs of every student. Our individualized programs offer personalized education for children at varying stages of development and ability levels.
CCA students have the freedom to learn at their own pace with the support of their teachers from the comfort of home. If your child needs additional support or has special learning needs, we’ll implement customized strategies and services to help your child thrive.
Contact us to learn more about CCA’s personalized learning programs for your child.