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Fine motor skills are something we take for granted because we use them for such ordinary tasks, like tying our shoelaces or handling our cutlery. Essentially, fine motor skills involve the control of the small muscles in the hands, wrists, and fingers, and as children get bigger, they must use them more and more, especially in school. However, for a child, these activities are more challenging than you make think, and will take practise to master. Weaknesses in fine motor skills can unfortunately affect a child’s ability to write legibly, turn pages in a book, eat, get dressed and use a computer mouse, to name but a few. The trick for parents is knowing the right activities to do with your child to help them strengthen these small muscles, so here are some tips from a private school in Dublin.
When it comes to your child getting dressed, you probably tend to want to dive in and help them, especially if you’re in a rush. However, it’s important to let your child get dressed without you, not only because it will help them with their independence, but also because a lot of the actions involved with getting dressed require the use of fine motor skills, such as doing up zips and buttons, brushing teeth etc.
Creative activities are great for helping develop the fine motor skills because they involve gripping and controlling pencils, crayons, paint brushes, scissors etc. There are also lots of toys and games to play with your child to help them strengthen these muscles, including jigsaw puzzles, play doh and Lego. These activities involve push and pull movements and moving small objects around using the pincer grasp.
Gardening is something else you can do with your child if you’re hoping to help them with their fine motor skills. Encourage them to dig with a trowel, plant little seeds and use a watering can. For rainy days, cooking is another option, as it involves pouring ingredients, stirring, and whisking.
It’s worth doing some research about the various milestones when it comes to fine motor skills so that you can determine whether or not your child is progressing as they should. For instance, at around 18 months, babies should be able to feed themselves with their fingers and at three years old they should be able to draw. However, do not forget that all children develop at different rates, so just use the timeline as an approximate guide. Only if you are truly concerned should you make an appointment with your doctor.