Mastering a skill never happens overnight. Whether a child is trying to bounce a basketball or learn to recognize letters, these accomplishments take time. And repetition. The same is true for fine motor skills. In fact, fine motor skills take years to mature. And that old adage is so true:
Practice Makes Perfect!
Sometimes, depending on a child's interests and abilities, fine motor skills may be slower to develop. Some younger children simply don't have the hand strength, development, and dexterity to manipulate a pencil or work fasteners on their clothes. As parents, teachers, and therapists, we do our best to encourage kids to take part in activities that help their skills progress. But even with the best of intentions we may not practice fine motor skills every day.
Incorporating fine motor skills into everyday tasks ensures that children will get the fine motor practice they need. At home or at school try these ideas.
1- Have kids sign in at the start of the day, coloring in a circle beside their names.
Use markers for this task and let kids practice taking a cap off a marker and replacing it again. Ask kids if they hear the "SNAP" when the marker cap goes on.
2- Have kids place stickers on letters or numbers that they are learning.
Make copies of pages with letters or numbers. Ask a child to peel stickers and attach them to a page. Stickers can be purchased in bulk on Amazon or at some dollar stores. Peeling stickers addresses pincer grasp and finger dexterity. Address both fine motor skills and letter recognition at the same time. Or make simple pages that has a child's name written on it. A child can place stickers on the letters of her name.
Another option is to squeeze play-doh into small circles and stick these onto letters and numbers. Squeezing the play-doh is a wonderful way to practice fine motor skills.
3- Use a hole punch for counting activities.
Kids enjoy using simple age-appropriate hole punches. Sometimes these are in the form or flowers, or animals, or shapes. Have a child punch a specific number of hole punches into a piece of paper. This can be a daily whole-class activity, with other kids counting and clapping their hands.
1- Encourage children to open and close items in the kitchen and bathroom every morning. Working any types of containers requires bilateral (two-handed) coordination and hand strength.
* When brushing teeth, a child can open and close the toothpaste each day.
* In the kitchen it could be a child's "job" to open all the beverage containers, such as orange juice and milk - even the cream for a grown-up's coffee!
2- Peel fruit for the family!
Peeling oranges, clementines, or "cuties" can be hard work for kids. A child must use two hands to peel. One hand holds the fruit - this is called the "helper" hand. One hand peels the fruit - this is called the "worker" hand. It can be a child's "job" to peel oranges and bananas. This makes children feel proud of themselves and addresses hand skills at the same time!
3- After a child eats, a child can clean his space at the table using a spray bottle filled with water.
Using a spray bottle requires that a child squeeze hard with the whole hand. Doing this activity every day will improve a child's hand strength over time. After they spray, they wipe the space down. Kids can do this both at breakfast and dinner. Children usually enjoy this!
Two More Tips - at Home or at School!
1- Place crayons or colored pencils in a large Ziploc bag.Opening and closing Ziploc bags demands bilateral (two-handed) coordination, hand strength, and good visual attention.
2- Encourage kids to use squeezable glue bottles as well as glue sticks. (With glue sticks ensure that kids take on and remove the caps to work on hand strength.)
And take a look at my latest Pre-K and Kindergarten handwriting resources! See them at My Store on Teachers Pay Teachers!
Lisa Marnell MS, OTR/L