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How to Help Your Child Develop Fine Motor Skills

By Terri Zimmerman, kindergarten educator
Fine motor skills aid in the growth of intelligence and develop throughout the stages of development.
As a kindergarten teacher for more than 20 years, I have witnessed the decline of fine motor skills. With the advent of computers, writing has become greatly overlooked. The “swipe” finger has become the strongest appendage on a young child’s hand, but the other two fingers on either side are neglected. Using a pencil correctly is a developmental skill that is the result of building fine motor skills. Eye-hand coordination, strong fingers and being able to make firm strokes on paper must develop before writing can take place. Have your child start giving those fingers a muscle-building work out now.

Fine motor skills include the movement of muscles of the fingers, hands and wrists. This coordination of hand, eye and brain make these skills more difficult to attain than gross motor skills. Fine motor skills aid in the growth of intelligence and develop throughout the stages of development.

The following activities will aide in the development of fine motor skills:

Building hand strength
Playdough, play foam or any other similar non-toxic material can be used. Your child should be encouraged to roll it, make shapes and cut it with scissors or a plastic knife. “Hide” small beads inside the playdough so that they can then dig them out with their fingers. Squeezing a pre-slit tennis ball also builds hand strength. 

Developing pencil grip
Coloring and drawing with crayons. Crayons do not slide like markers and will develop the muscles for pincer grip. Thinner crayons build the muscles quicker than the thicker crayons. Golf pencils are a good size to use for developing a pencil grip. Activities with clothespins and tweezers also build the muscles for grip.

Incorporating visual-motor integration
Your child should trace over the letters in their name. Letters can also be written in shaving cream or finger paint. Copying samples of shape also build this skill.

Building dexterity
Practice button and unbuttoning, and hooking fasteners, snaps and zippers. Your child can use their own clothes. Accomplishing these skills is a boost to self-esteem as well.

Establishing fine motor and spatial awareness
Puzzles are excellent. They reinforce reaching, grasping and manipulating the pieces. Puzzles develop fine motor in conjunction with spatial awareness skills. A fun puzzle activity can be drawing lines on an enlarged photo of your child, so they can cut it up. Then using glue, your child can adhere the pieces to paper. This activity incorporates cutting, gluing and spatial awareness all in one.


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