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Supporting fine motor skills through playing

Hand or fine motor skills development

The basis of each child’s upbringing is to create the best possible conditions for his/her comprehensive development and to prepare him/her to start a completely independent life. The hand is responsible for many really important functions during our lives – it can serve as a tool for wrestling, lifting heavy things, pushing, eating, and at the same time it can perform very complex and precise movements, such as threading, writing, painting or lacing. Our hands owe their dexterity to the capabilities of the cerebral cortex. Thanks to it we are able to set our hands in motion and stop them, direct, control and synchronize them. The area responsible for the movements of the upper limbs, especially the hands and fingers, covers an amazingly large area compared to the rest of the cerebral cortex. This clearly shows the extraordinary importance of the limbs in our lives.

The development of hand functions, i.e. fine motor skills, is a gradual acquisition of the ability to use objects, improving manual skills, and finally performing complex, often precise activities in everyday life.

Unfortunately, these skills are not innate, we have to learn them ourselves, and we start doing it already in the  infancy period. In the first years of a child’s life, fine motor skills develop intensively and it is worth supporting it consciously. However, it does not require strenuous exercise that only discourages the child. One should take care of the selection of activities so that through playing, the dexterity of child’s fingers and hands is developed.

Correct position is essential

Grabbing small objects, threading, kneading, placing blocks or drawing at a later stage are only some of the activities that positively affect the development of fine motor skills. The more games of that type, the better the hand’s dexterity in the future. However, it is also worth paying attention to the appropriate position of the child during these activities. Correct posture will help your child engage more fully and control what he/she does with the hands. The position should, above all, be comfortable, safe, adapted to the child and allow maximum use of the hands functions. Therefore, it is worth taking care of properly selected furniture that meets the above criteria. Furniture that will have various functions and will adapt to each stage of a child’s development. Møb is such a piece of furniture, i.e. a wooden 8 in 1 set, which includes: a smaller chair that can be transformed into a stool, a smaller table that can be changed into a chair for older children, and a larger table with two height settings for the top that can be changed into a low armchair. It is a perfect piece of furniture for creative games supporting little hands. The settings of the set can be changed along with new and creative games – the possibilities are endless!

Fine motor skills – how can we develop it?

Here are a few games that will ensure a nice time, and at the same time strengthen fine motor skills:

– One or more corks, plasticine, sticks, a piece of adhesive paper, tape and scissors will be need for this game. Fill the corks with plasticine. Put a stick in the plasticine and attach a flag made of self-adhesive paper to it. When our corks are ready, we glue the track on the table top with a tape. We mark the beginning of the track as the start and the end as the finish. The child’s task is to push the cork gently so that it goes from the start to the finish without falling off the track.

– The toddler, sitting freely on a high chair, has several small plastic dishes with lids in front of him. We put small toys, e.g. animals or cars inside. We ask the child to look into each dish by lifting the lid and telling what is inside.

– Attach a few plastic cups to the edge of the table with a tape. It would be best if they were stuck side by side. The toddler’s task is to roll a small ball so that it falls into one of the cups. The balls can be thrown one by one or several can be rolled at once.

– In most of our homes, we will find a tape, with the use of which we can prepare many interesting games. In one of them, stick a few strips of tape between the legs of the table or chair. Then let the child attach balls, sticks, pompoms or other small items to the tape. If we have colored tapes and colored pencils, we can diversify the fun and ask the child to match them in terms of color.

– Children love playing with different masses. This activity is an excellent exercise for little hands – the mass can be kneaded, rolled, grinded, torn into pieces. We can make homemade dough very quickly from generally available ingredients. We need 1½ cup of wheat flour, ¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup of oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, ½ cup of warm water, and alternatively food coloring. Mix all ingredients thoroughly so that the mass is smooth and elastic. We can make various animals out of the dough, we can roll it out with a rolling pin, cut out various shapes with a cookie cutter, and also make balls into which we can put sticks, paper clips or beans.

Fine motor skills have a huge impact on a child’s life. In preschool age, it provides more opportunities for self-service activities, learning to draw or paint. At school age, it means better writing skills and greater independence, which translates into higher self-esteem. With such a large selection of furniture, aids and toys, it is worth betting on proven, good-quality products and ensuring the best development of our children.

About me:

My name is Sylwia Szczycińska. I am a pre-school and kindergarten teacher, special educator, free time animator, and above all, a mother of three wonderful children. I have been running a blog “Creative Maternity” for several years.

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