How to Help Develop Your Child’s Motor Skills
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Something as simple as the day a baby can hold their head up is quite special for parents. It is indeed one of the earliest milestones in a child’s life. This is the earliest indication of voluntary use of muscles.
The first five years of a child’s life are crucial to their growth and development. This occurs across five major areas or zones, mainly motor or physical, cognitive, language and communication, emotional, and social. A lack of these can severely impact a child’s mental and physical well-being.
What Are Motor Skills?
Motor skills can be understood as the skills required by the human body to move.
Although it seems like a basic human function, it is rather complex. The body’s brain, nervous, and muscular systems must work harmoniously to produce well-intended and well-targeted movement.
Understanding the Importance of Motor Skills
Young children learn most from observing their environment. They are naturally curious beings and show an enthusiastic interest in their surroundings. They understand structure and texture by moving and touching the things around them. As they age, they begin taking an interest in simple tasks, like holding a glass alone, doodling, or helping carry the laundry. They get more active and start to support their weight, then walk and eventually run. To do this, they need an accurately coordinated motor system to take on any challenges without hindrance or fear.
For this reason, pre-schools and other childhood education programs pay special attention to developing motor skills. Treehouse Learning is one such early childhood education program for whole-child learning in Boulder County, CO. Located in Lafayette, they have worked tirelessly and with a purpose since 1997. Their primary focus is to provide apt learning experiences and stimulate young children’s emotional and physical growth. They pay special attention to milestones and believe in windows of opportunity that must be struck at the right time to achieve optimal levels of development. They employ knowledgeable and dedicated staff to ensure that children under their wing receive the highest quality of care.
Categories Of Motor Skills
When it comes to understanding the development of a child’s motor skills, it is easier to classify them into two main types.
Gross motor skills
Gross motor skills employ the entire body or one or more large muscle groups to perform a movement. They come into play by engaging the core, arms, and legs. These skills are most useful in performing movements like holding the head upright, sitting, crawling, standing, walking, running, skipping, and jumping.
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills refer to those skills that bring smaller muscle groups into use. Movement occurs at one or more locations, including hands, lips, tongue, fingers, and toes. They enable children to perform precise movements like grasping an object, pushing buttons, wiggling their fingers, and putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
7 Ways to Help Develop Your Child’s Motor Skills
If you wish to learn more about how to help with your child’s motor development, you first need to recognize and acknowledge the sequence it progresses in. It begins in the inner body and radiates toward the outer body. The motor system begins to mature in the head, neck, and limbs. It gradually moves toward the extremities, like hands, fingers, feet, and toes. While milestones are helpful and give you a rough idea of what to expect and when to expect it, it is imperative to understand that every child’s development is unique.
Here are eight ways to help develop your child’s motor skills.
1. Creativity with play-dough
Working with play-dough is an excellent way to stimulate your child’s tactile senses. Being able to press and mold and create something completely new and one-of-a-kind is truly magical. Your child can develop their creative thinking but also their fine motor skills.
2. Putting a puzzle together
Puzzles usually come with more substantial and chunkier pieces for younger children and finer pieces for older children. Depending on your child’s age, pick a puzzle to do together.
Research shows that puzzles are excellent for maturation and development on multiple levels. As your child grasps and fiddles with a puzzle piece, the small muscles in their hands and wrists come into action. This activity contributes to the accuracy of fine movements and will positively impact your child’s visual perception, visual memory, comprehension, and analysis.
3. Helping in the Kitchen
You might feel like your child ends up making a mess whenever you are working in the kitchen. But you’d be surprised to know that it might be one of the most conducive environments for motor development. So keep your child busy with kitchen utensils like tongs, rolling pins, and chopsticks. There is nothing to worry about if they are far enough from you to cook in peace and close enough to keep an eye on them.
4. Building with LEGO
LEGO blocks are considered one of the most innovative toys ever. They can instill motor and cognitive skills in your child—stacking and building help with muscle strengthening and coordination, which boost STEM achievement.
5. Using scissors
You might gasp at the thought of a pair of scissors being close to your child. But the finesse required to cut a piece of paper contributes remarkably to developing fine motor skills. Get your child a blunt pair so they can start learning.
6. Building a Sandcastle
Consider yourself lucky if you live near the beach. Try to take your child on a weekly or monthly trip to the beach and let them play with the sand. Let them use their wildest imagination to create structures and feel the texture of sand slipping through their fingers.
7. Threading beads together
A basic activity like threading beads onto a string might be more beneficial than you think. It will promote fine motor development and play a role in your child’s critical thought process.
The early developmental years are no doubt crucial. They revolve around children discovering all their young bodies can do. And at this time, they require special attention. The strength, balance, and coordination they achieve at this point eventually determine their activity and agility later in life. Therefore, they must develop their gross and fine motor skills as efficiently as possible. Mastering them gives children the independence they need to live fulfilling lives.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.