Motor development begins right from birth. Infants exercise gross motor skills when they roll over, turn their heads, or shake hands and legs. Likewise, they use fine motor skills while reaching out to adults, grasping objects, shaking rattles, etc.
What Are Fine Motor Skills & Why Do We Need Them?
Unlike gross motor skill activities (like running, jumping, etc.) that involve voluntary movement of the larger muscles in the hands and legs, fine motor skills include activities that use precise movements of the smaller muscles in the wrists, fingers, toes, hands, and feet. They’re much more complex, requiring stronger coordination between body muscles and the brain. Activities involving fine motor skills come so naturally that we often don’t realise or think about them. However, they’re significant because we rely on these skills to perform diverse activities like self-care, lifestyle management, studies, and professional jobs. For instance:
- Brushing and flossing teeth
- Showering or bathing
- Turning door knobs
- Buttoning & unbuttoning shirts
- Tying shoelaces and buckling belts
- Using forks, spoons, and knives to have meals
- Whisking, mixing, or stirring items,
- Holding objects
Students use fine motor skills when:
- Holding pencils, pens, or colours
- Taking measurements with the help of a ruler
- Writing, drawing, or painting
- Turning the pages of books
- Cutting, pasting, and folding
- Playing different musical instruments
- Building structures using blocks or Lego
- Sculpting and making pottery
- Dressing up dolls
How Are Fine Motor Skills Significant For Learning?
Child development experts believe that fine motor skill development involves the participation of different body systems like neurological, sensory, cardiorespiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.
Participation in related activities develops many abilities and critical life skills. (For Ex: Balance, coordination, flexibility, physical agility) Some academic activities require fine motor skills (e.g., art & craft, drama, music, typing, note-taking, etc.)
Moreover, when motor skills improve with systematic physical activity training (like sports), it results in better endurance, fitness, and physical performance. Regularly indulging in activities involving gross and fine motor skills can help reduce the risks of lifestyle diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, cardiac diseases, hyperlipidemia, etc.
Various Activities For Strengthening Motor Development in Childhood
Preschools play a crucial role in developing gross and fine motor skills during early childhood. The “Early Years Programme” offered in schools includes creative, cognitive, and physical activities that accelerate these skills.
- Sand Play
Sand sensory bins are common in preschools, not just because they’re easy to maintain and are fun to play in. When children trace patterns on sand or use them to make figures and structures like castles, they use almost every muscle in their hands. It enhances curiosity, observation, fine motor skill development, coordination, collaboration, etc.
- Water Play
Splashing in the kiddie pool, swimming, fishing, mixing watercolours, painting, etc., are a few water-based activities that ensure motor development in infants and toddlers. It gives them a chance to interact with nature and is especially significant in the case of learners struggling with Angleman syndrome.
- Eye Dropper Testing
Eye dropper testing involves identifying various colours and pouring them using a dropper. Educators can make it more engaging and challenging for preschoolers by performing eye-dropper activities like target practice, splash painting, watercolour experiments, fireless baking, etc., in classrooms.
Pattering includes comprehending and arranging different materials or resources in a sequence to maintain a pattern. We often see preschoolers performing patterning activities in the art and craft class, where they cut and stick coloured papers, beads and sequins, solve puzzles etc., to create artwork or indulge in the thumb, leaf, or vegetable impression printing.
- Activities For Improving Hand-Eye Coordination
Free play is an excellent way to promote hand-eye coordination. When toddlers indulge in bouncing balls, juggling, playing catch with friends, swinging, or using slides, they simultaneously use multiple big and small muscles in their bodies, which keeps them fit, healthy, observant and alert.
- Activities To Strengthen Bilateral Coordination
Beating drums, skipping, jumping jacks, playing with a frisbee, pushing or pulling objects, climbing a ladder, walking up and down the staircase, marching, etc., are some activities that improve bilateral coordination. These activities simultaneously use both sides of the brain and body to perform a task, thus indicating that both sides of the brain are active.
- Activities For Strengthening Core Muscle Strength
Crawling, rolling, standing from sitting on the floor, yoga, martial arts, cycling, sports, etc., build core muscle strength in students, which is important for good health and endurance.
Thus, it’s impossible to negate the importance of a good preschool programme in ensuring motor development in infants & toddlers. Make sure you choose a school that incorporates such activities into its curriculum to give your child a good start.
Are you seeking the best school in Bangalore? Ekya Schools build a resilient foundation for young minds by incorporating a diverse range of learning activities in their Ekya Early Years program to ensure the holistic development of students. E.g., sand play, performing & visual arts, puppetry, gardening, free play, sensory activities, etc. Click here to discover how we encourage children to live their lessons everyday.