Stacking blocks….

Eating with a fork and spoon….

Putting on socks….

Brushing teeth or hair….

These are all accomplishments that use fine motor skills and are an important part of your child’s development and school readiness. Fine motor abilities allow for increasing independence by being able to open doors, zip and button clothes, self-toilet and wash hands. These abilities and skills are crucial for developing positive self-esteem, self-help proficiency, and the academic skills needed in later years.

Fine motor skills are important for success in most school activities as well as life in general. As children enter school, they need to be able to hold a pencil, manipulate materials, use a computer, turn the pages of a book, as well as take care of all of their personal needs. Children with poor fine motor skills may experience low self-esteem and frustration, which can lead to social and school struggles. Fear of failure often results in children avoiding participating in activities which could help them improve these skills.

Fine motor skills involve finger/hand strength, fine motor control and dexterity, and eye/hand coordination. There are many easy-to-do activities that can help children strengthen their hand/finger muscles and develop fine motor skills:
• Stringing – using a shoe string and beads, cheerios, fruit loops, and noodles. This activity also helps hand-eye coordination as well as finger dexterity;
• Scribbling – or ‘writing’ as young children like to call it! This is a first stepping stone to writing. As their control develops, the scribbles will become pictures and writing;
• Tracing – use fingers to trace letters, shapes and words in various mediums such as flour, paint and pudding;
• Sorting – use empty egg cartons or ice cube trays to sort beans, beads or other small objects to help develop the ability to manipulate materials. Use age-appropriate materials as this could be a choking hazard for younger children, carefully supervise;
• Tearing paper – tear small pieces of paper to create an art/craft project; using just fingers to tear really helps develop dexterity and strength;
• Cutting – snipping is one of the first steps to cutting;
• Play-dough – pinching, rolling, squishing are all great ways to develop finger muscles.

Providing a variety of opportunities is important to help your child develop and master fine motor skills. In the Birding Fun Unit of Study, the Cracked Up activity helps children develop eye/hand coordination AND make a yummy snack!

Birding Fun Unit of Study is available at http://earlylearningsuccess.net/product/birding-fun/

Resources for article
Developing Motor Skills by the editors of Child magazine;
Available online at http://www.parents.com
How to Help Your Toddler Develop Fine Motor Skills by A. J. Morrison;
Available on line at www.helium.com/items/1110719-learning-fine-motor-skills
Developing Fine Motor Skills: The Importance of Motor Development in Young Children by Kelly Boyer