All you need to know about Fine Motor Skills
Our in-house Early Years expert and former teacher, Carrie, tells us more about those all important motor skills.
When you think about the amount of times you use your hands in a given day you quickly lose count: writing, driving, dressing, feeding, even to connect with those around you. Without being able to use your hands these tasks would be a challenge and yet, we often do them without even thinking.
Every single task we do uses fine motor skills and the development of these skill start shortly after birth and continue through the early years of life.
Building Blocks for Basic Fine Motor Skill Development
Soft touch textile from Threadbear design // Tiny teether rings from dantoy
- Tummy Time
An important activity that strengthens the core, neck, and shoulders When a baby is young, abilities like lifting and supporting their own head, shifting weight into their hands and arms and developing a perception of things being close or far away has to be developed before they start to build the strong core muscles which sets them up for sitting, standing and eventually walking. The benefits of tummy time can be seen later on with good concentration, sound gross motor skills and the ability to follow lines and circles in pre-writing patterns.
- Primitive Reflexes
The integration of primitive reflexes (startle, rooting. grasping and such) as a baby has an impact on a child’s balance, sensory perception, sleep, immunity, energy levels, impulse control, concentration, social, emotional and academic learning later on.
A phase that optimizes future learning. It makes muscles strong as well as stimulating different parts of the brain and influencing the ability to learn. Visual and tactile senses are stimulated while gross and fine motor skills are developed and all the while myelin, a matter that coats the nerves, is produced the most when an infant is crawling. Myelin plays an important role in sending and receiving messages in the brain and the more of it that is produced means faster and clearer learning for your little one.
Gross Motor Skills
A basic building block for all fine motor skills: we need a strong core, neck and shoulder muscles as well as good muscle tone to be able to use everyday objects.
Planet-friendly gross motor toys from Kinderfeets, shop the range here
Visual Motor Skills
When motor skills and eye-sight work together we see visual-perceptual skills, They work on organizing and interpreting information and giving it meaning – vitally important for reading, spelling, understanding maths and handwriting!
Eye-Hand Coordination and Visual Motor Integration
Coordinated control of eyes and hands where the hands can process the information coming from what is seen as well as the skill to mix in different areas, such as perception, all helps with writing and prewriting.
Space perception can be developed with toys like this eco-friendly shape sorter, Dhs.275; scooping and filling activities with this truck, Dhs.245 and rake Dhs.15, and ice cream scoop Dhs.95 can help depth perception and eye-hand coordination.
Sensory Processing and Fine Motor Skills
You have heard of the 5 senses but did you know there are 8 sensory systems that work together to allow us to process information?
-Touch: anything you touch or feel
-Hearing: hearing, listening and being able to filter or selectively hear (think about when you say your kids name and they continue with the activity like you said nothing at all)
-Sight: typically we are able to use smooth eye movements to scan and process what we see
-Smell: so important when it comes to eating and trying new foods for the first time
-Taste: the ability to perceive flavours
-Proprioception: lets us know where our body parts are in space and what they are doing
-Vestibular: our own GPS system- it lets us know if we are standing, lying or sitting
-Interoception: tells us how our body is feeling. Are we hungry, thirsty or tired?
Visual thinking toys and games help develop visual and sensory skills. Stickers like this Poppik one, from Dhs.45, Polar B 3D Puzzle Tower, Dhs. 85 and Tiger Tribe Lacing Cards, Dhs.70 help to develop visual and sensory skills.
So what’s all that got to do with Fine Motor Skills?
The systems work together to let us write, using the correct pressure to pick up hold and move the pencil without tearing the paper, they help us to be able to listen and process information, they help us to learn. And the best way for babies, toddlers and young children to learn? Through play of course!