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  • 5 Ways You Can Help Develop Your Preschooler’s Fine Motor Skills

    There are fun activities that you and your child can both enjoy.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
5 Ways You Can Help Develop Your Preschooler’s Fine Motor Skills
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  • Parents play a big role in their children's development, and this includes the fine motor skills of preschoolers. You can achieve this by doing activities together that can be both fun and productive.

    What are fine motor skills?

    Fine motor skills are a set of skills that makes up one of the two types of motor development. Motor development is also known as physical development. Simply put, it is the physical maturity of your child, from their bone and muscle strengthening to performing movements as a way of interacting with their environment. The other type of motor development is gross motor skills.

    Fine motor skills involve the ability to manipulate smaller objects with the hands and fingers, according to experts from the Education and Training department of the Victoria State Government in Australia. Examples include grasping, holding, and pinching.

    They point out that fine motor skills are necessary for many aspects of self-care as children, such as putting on shoes, feeding themselves, and cleaning their own teeth. This set of skills are also critical for the development of emergent writing and engagement in drawing and other fine arts.

    How are fine motor skills are developed?

    The experts point out that "fine motor development is essential in developing the ability to mark-make and write effectively, so that a message can be communicated." To manipulate the mark-making equipment, the muscles from the whole arm through to the finger tips should be developed to provide children with strength.

    This developed strength and control of the hand and fingers will then support your child's beginnings of a pincer grip, which is useful for gripping pencils and pens. Your child's fine motor can be developed through experiences involving materials that support building strength in the arms, hands, and fingers, as well as opportunities to mark-make, draw, and write.

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    In addition, family life and child development expert Barbara "Thumby" Server-Veloso explains this in an article she wrote for SmartParenting.com.ph: "Aside from showing interest in toys or objects, one of the first signs of motor skills is when kids can use their hands and fingers competently."

    She adds, "They play with toys as they were intended. For example, they put puzzle pieces back on board, stack blocks to make a tower, put shapes into sorter. They can also use different writing implements or scissors."

    She also points out that fine motor skills are essential: "Many children today are used to swiping on screens, that they aren’t developing the fine motor skills necessary for writing, exploring materials, or art and music."

    Activities to help develop the fine motor skills of preschoolers

    Preschooler teacher Lyra Villaraza tells SmartParenting.com.ph that any activity that will make children use their small muscles is helpful in honing their fine motor skills. She also suggests a few activities that you and your child can both enjoy doing.

    Playing

    The next time your preschooler asks you to play with him or her, just think about how that fun activity will help hone his or her fine motor skills. Just make sure you have a supply of supplies, such as construction toys, playdough, or beads you can string together.

    Cooking

    Allowing your child to help you with chores in the kitchen is like hitting two birds with one stone. This is not only a means to develop his or her fine motor skills but also an introduction to household chores. You can teach your child how to use the tongs, scooper, measuring cups, and other kitchen implements.

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    Gardening

    Whether you grow plants outdoors or indoors, you can make gardening a fun and learning activity for your child. Maybe you can provide him or her with kid-friendly versions of gardening tools, like a shovel, and teach him or her how to use it.

    Dressing up

    While teaching your child how to dress by himself or herself, you are also helping develop his or her fine motor skills. Just watch how his or her hands work as they button or unbutton their tops and zip or unzip their short pants.

    Being creative

    Letting both your and your child's creative juices flow can also help hone the fine motor skills of preschoolers. The possibilities are endless: solving jigsaw puzzles, painting, pasting, cutting along lines, tracing, drawing, and so on.

    Just a few reminders from Teacher Lyra. She says the level of difficulty and expectations depend on the age and skills of your child. For smaller kids, for instance, they prefer to play around rather than do serious work.

    She also suggests to start with jumbo crayons/markers/pencils before going for the regular size of such materials. For other materials, like jigsaw puzzles, start with a few pieces before gradually adding more pieces as your child grows along with the development of fine motor skills of preschoolers.

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