If you’ve never consciously thought about teaching your child to develop fine motor skills, you are not alone. After all, previous generations never talked about the matter, and yet children grew up being able to write, sew and tie their shoes very well. But there is a huge difference between our children’s generation and everything that came before them: technology. If your kids are glued to screens these days, it’s essential to add three-dimensional play to their lives as soon as possible.
“More and more students are entering kindergarten with fine motor deficits,” Arielle Bing, a remedial reading teacher in upstate New York, told SheKnows. “Some students don’t even know how to properly hold a pencil. They also don’t have the stamina. So when they write in class, after a few minutes they will start to say, “My hands hurt. My arms hurt. And it is legitimate. I’m sure it hurts, because they haven’t developed their muscles enough to support writing for a long period of time.
Although children generally develop a good pencil grip between the ages of 4 and 6, she said, this is much more difficult to achieve when they are 5 years old and have no grip at all.
Having seen this problem worsen in recent years, Bing believes it’s because more kids are playing on screens rather than toys and pencils. It echoes a concern that others have also expressed.
“It is easier to give a child an iPad than to encourage them to do muscle building games such as building blocks, cut and paste, or pull toys and ropes,” Sally Payne, pediatric occupational therapist in head at the Heart of England NHS Trust told The Guardian in 2018. “Because of this, they are not developing the underlying basic skills they need to grab and hold a pencil.”
This isn’t a bunch of teachers disillusioned with young students’ writing, for that matter. Being able to hold a pencil or pencil is an essential foundation for literacy, Bing told us. Studies have shown a relationship between motor skills and language skills. And at a basic level, if a child is so focused on how to write – and any physical discomfort they might be feeling – they may find it difficult to focus on learning their letters and numbers. .
There is good news, however. In fact, you don’t have to “teach” your child these skills. It is the job of parents to guide children to the types of play with toys that will allow them to learn fine motor skills on their own. If you have questions about what and when they should learn, you can check with their pediatrician, as well as checklists like these.
“It’s important to keep a realistic perspective for your child,” Bing said. “You don’t want to push them beyond what’s appropriate for development. Every child is different, but I also think it’s important to have a reference.
Here are some of the activities you can encourage your child to do to develop fine motor skills.
1. Eat appetizers.
As soon as a baby is ready to eat solid foods, he can start practicing his pincer grip with Cheerios, puffs, etc.
2. Stack blocks and cups.
It is no coincidence that these are often the first favorite toys of toddlers. “They understand the concept of sizing and that one can go in the other, and that helps them with their fine and gross motor skills and coordination,” Dr Navya Mysore, One Medical family doctor at One Medical, told SheKnows. New York. One of the skills they have to learn here after picking up their toy is to put it down and let it go, rather than dropping it anywhere.
3. Sculpt with Play-doh.
“Parents always underestimate the value of something like Play-doh, but it really strengthens the muscles in the hand, and you work on that fine motor skills by pinching and manipulating it,” Bing said.
4. Paint and color.
The little ones can start with finger painting, of course. At a fairly early age, they might also be able to grasp pencils designed specifically for their less coordinated hands. Don’t give up on this if your child doesn’t seem interested in being an artist. Introduce it again another time, perhaps with coloring sheets that appeal to their interests.
5. Stamp stuff.
Stamps require a bit of coordination to place the image on the paper in the desired location, and no matter where on the page (or parts of the body) they end up, they also provide children with the satisfaction of creating an image. complete.
6. Use loaded boards and doll clothes.
Even if our future ultimately involves only touch screens, your child needs to learn how to use zippers, buttons, and laces. These toddler-friendly toys give them a head start.
7. Thread with pipe cleaners and more.
Before your child is ready for the needles, you can give them a colander and have them thread pipe cleaners through the holes. Or you can also buy lacing toys. This task requires concentration and stillness that will help them later, Bing said.
8. Cut out shapes.
When the coloring seems too two-dimensional, you can start giving preschoolers scissors and paper with outlines to follow. This again requires concentration and coordinated movement.
9. Use tweezers to sort the objects.
There are tons of toys out there that include kid-friendly tweezers (keep the sharpest ones for your eyebrows) and small items to pick up and sort. The grip needed to manipulate tweezers is very similar to a proper pencil grip, but if these games are fun to play, no one will notice that’s what they are practicing.
You can also search for blogs and Pinterest recommending more activities and games to help kids perfect their fine motor skills, but if you are turning to the internet you might want to narrow your search to sites run by experts such as therapists. Getting their advice now can help make sure your child doesn’t need to see them in an official capacity later.
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Here are some other ways to get your kids off their screens.