Fumbling in my purse for loose change today, I’m reminded how important fine motor skills are for daily life.
What are ‘fine motor skills’?
Fine motor skills are the small muscle movements in the body. They enable activities such as writing, grasping small objects and fastening clothes. Children who have a weakness in fine motor skills struggle to develop strong muscles in their fingers, hands and wrists. They may also have poor eye-hand coordination.
Why are fine motor skills important?
Problems with fine motor skills can have a detrimental effect on education and impact on life in general. For example, the ability to hold a fork and eat, write legibly and complete personal self care tasks such as washing and dressing all depend on the coordination of small actions.
My own son still struggles with pen & paper tasks, his ability to tie shoe laces remains a work in progress, not to mention the hours of frustration spent battling with fiddly zips!
What can I do if my child needs help?
There are lots of inexpensive resources and ideas to help strengthen fine motor skills.
Drawing, colouring and craft activities can all help build these skills in a fun, informal way.
We’re lucky to have Star Tree Studio nearby who host a range of craft and creative classes (as well as art & craft birthday parties) where kids can ‘play-create-learn’ without messing up the house! Check out your local free papers and family magazines to find something similar in your area.
The imagination tree has a great blog post ’40 fine motor skills activities’
OT Mom Learning Activities has some useful suggestions for fine motor activities for older kids
Make it fun
Kids learn best when they don’t realise they’re learning! For example, we always recommend that children are involved with putting together their own TomTag ready to use. As well as helping them to understand their own routine it is a very tactile and fun activity that can help strengthen fine motor skills. Peeling off and sticking stickers onto buttons requires hand-eye coordination and pincher grip – both important for writing. Hand and finger muscles come into play too when clicking buttons into tags and removing them.
Zip it up!
Getting hold of a zipper to fasten up a jacket, bag or pencil case can be incredibly difficult for children with fine motor difficulties. We’ve now got funky zip pulls to help with those fiddly zips!
We’re giving them away free right now to anyone who recommends TomTag to a friend who then places an order.
We’d also recommend Zipz by MERU – colourful, ergonomically designed zip pulls which are also great for glove wearers: skiers, bikers, winter & outdoor activities lovers.