Are you a parent who wants to know how to improve the fine motor skills of your child? Rest assured, there are many activities you can do with your child to help them in this area.
Fine motor skills are small muscle movements of the fingers in coordination with the eyes. When teaching fine motor skills, try to be patient and understanding with your child. Fine motor skills take more time and practice to develop than we adults might think. Sometimes we forget just how many of these skills need to be learned – thinking instead that our child should automatically know how to do these tasks. It’s definitely worth taking the time to practice these skills with our children. The more developed our children’s fine motor skills become, the easier they will be able to learn to write.
Like gross motor skills, fine motor skills develop in a consistent manner but at an uneven pace. At times, your child will pick up skills rapidly, and at other times their skill development will be delayed. Most children who struggle with mastering certain fine motor skills do not have a serious problem. If your child is significantly behind his peers in multiple aspects of fine motor development or if he regresses, losing previously acquired skills, then you should seek medical advice.
It is more fun for your child to learn while they play. Try to incorporate activities like dress-up to teach zipping and buttoning; making cards to practice writing or tracing skills; cutting and pasting to make a project other than just a writing on a plain piece of paper, etc. Be creative and have fun!
Here are some suggestions for developing fine motor skills, and some activities to allow your child to practice them:
1. Cutting – Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
- A fringe from a piece of paper
- Cut off corners of a piece of paper
- Cut along curved lines
- Cut lines with a variety of angles
- Cut figures with curves and angles
- Cut clay with blunt scissors
- Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal, cotton) on outlines
- Match shapes, color, or pictures to a page and paste them within the outlines
3. Tracing and Coloring
- Use a thick black line if needed
- Trace and then color shapes, increasing the size and complexity gradually
4. Self-Care Skills
- Buttoning and unbuttoning
- Fastening Snaps
- Using a screwdriver
- Locking and unlocking a door
- Winding a clock
- Opening and closing jars
- Vacuuming a rug
- Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
- Washing plastic dishes
- Sweeping the floor
5. Finger Tracing
- Many times when a child is unable to do a worksheet, it helps to trace the pattern with his finger before he tries it with a pencil.
- Have the child trace a pattern in sand, cornmeal, finger paint, etc. The textures give the child kinesthetic feedback.
- Dot-to-dot drawings of pictures, objects, shapes, numbers, letters, etc.
- Typing exercises
- Tile and mosaic work
- Folding activities
- Fine coloring
- Have the child do repetitious strokes (with an increasingly smaller writing tool) similar to those found in manuscript or cursive letters. Emphasize accuracy, spacing and flow or rhythm. Sometimes doing it to music helps.
- Have the child write in the air and in front of his eyes (arm outstretched) with his finger.
- To increase his tactile awareness, have him trace over letters on textured surfaces. Have him manipulate 3-dimensional letters when blindfolded.
- When a writing tool is introduced, letters which involve similar strokes should be taught first (moving simple to complex). Next, combinations of letters in short words, sentences and finally spontaneous writing. (Remember to use words your child can read).
Now that you know how to improve fine motor skills in your child, go ahead and get started. Incorporating a few of these activities into your child’s day will go a long way in building their strength and improving their skills.
Question: Do you have any other suggestions for improving fine motor skills in children? Please leave a comment below.