12 Ways Parents can Develop Their Child’s Motor Skills

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Child's Motor Skills
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Motor skills enable infants and toddlers to use and control muscle groups in the hands, legs, fingers, and wrists. A child learns to grasp things from infancy, and motor skills continue to develop and strengthen during the first few years of life. Parents need to help their child master gross and fine motor skills. Scroll down to learn ways to develop your child’s motor skills.

Monitor Age-Appropriate Milestones

Behavioral and physical milestones occur in infants and children as they grow. You can explore the complete list of age-appropriate milestones on government and healthcare websites. 

An infant’s most important physical milestones during their first year of development are eye contact, smiling, handgrip, sitting without support, crawling, and even walking. These basic skills are important for every child for future growth, brain development, and hand-eye coordination.

If you find any delay in your child’s age-appropriate milestones, it’s essential to promptly examine and diagnose the underlying causes. An early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further delays in developmental milestones and help parents explore different ways to develop gross and fine motor skills. An inability to sit, crawl, or stand with support during the first year of a child’s life is a red flag of potential brain damage before, during, or after a child’s birth. Medical negligence during childbirth can result in brain damage, spinal cord injury, kernicterus, and many other disorders, resulting in physical and mental disability.

If you have been a victim of medical negligence or improper care during childbirth, The Birth Injury Justice Center can help you get financial compensation for treating diseases and disorders. Visit childbirthinjuries.com for a free case review. 

Types of Motor Skills Children Need to Develop

There are two types of motor skills that children develop during the early years of life:

  • Gross Motor Skill: Gross motor skills generally refer to a holistic body movement involving larger muscles like hands, feet, legs, arms, and torso. Infants generally have gross motor skills by birth, but with time, they develop brain-body coordination to master their skills and control these movements.
  • Fine Motor Skill: Fine motor skills refer to using small muscles in our hands, feet, fingers, wrists, and toes. These skills involve small muscle movements that need coordination between your child’s brain and body and reflect their ability to observe and imitate new things. Holding a pencil, cutting with a scissor, picking small objects with a pinching gesture, and other such movements come under fine motor skills.

Importance of Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Everyday activities like running, balancing, eating with utensils, using pencils, scissors, and brushes, wearing clothes, etc., require children to develop gross and fine motor skills. In our everyday lives, we use motor skills so often that we forget we’re using a set of skills and muscles to do what we’re doing, but for kids, it’s a big deal. Developing these motor skills is one of the most important developmental milestones, laying the groundwork for future cognitive, social, and physical abilities. Young children with properly-developed fine and gross motor skills develop high self-esteem, become more independent, and perform well socially and academically.

How to Develop a Child’s Motor Skills

Every parent’s concern is developing a child’s gross and fine motor skills. Each child develops motor skills at their own pace. Here are 12 creative and fun ways to develop your child’s gross and fine motor skills:

1. Using the Index (Pointing) Finger

Pointing at things is a perfect exercise for developing fine motor skills at an early age. The pointing gesture indicates that your child observes and imitates your body movement and follows instructions. You can refine your child’s fine motor skills by helping them use their index finger to press buttons and tap on tablets and touch screens.

2. Dancing and Playing Hopscotch

Dancing is one of the most effective and healthy activities to help your child practice the art of balancing and coordinating body movements, learning motor sequencing skills, and imitating others. Dancing in groups in a dance class or with friends at a kids’ party is a fun activity that enhances your child’s fine motor skills and develops rhythm awareness. For little kids, try rhymes and songs with movement, like wheels on the bus, hockey pokey, and a ring around the roses.

A hopscotch game can help your child master balancing, jumping, and coordination. You can draw hopscotch in your front yard or street, or if you don’t have a sidewalk or playground, you can set up hallway hopscotch with painter’s tape indoors.

3. Obstacle Courses

There are many ways you can construct indoor obstacle courses using pillows, blankets, furniture, and even toys. The goal is to get your child moving and give them something exciting to anticipate. By utilizing a variety of things, including jumping jacks, belly crawling, and hula-hoops, you can challenge your child to balance, jump, run, and crawl through the obstacles and develop their gross motor skills.

4. Cycling, Pedal Cars, Push Cars, and Carts

If your child struggles with gross motor skills, there are other ways to navigate and improve balance, and cycling and pedaling are one of them. Some tricycles include handles that allow you to push them while your child practices pedaling. When a child pedals, a bicycle or manual car helps them develop gross and fine motor skills. They learn to move and steer simultaneously and put their reflexes into practice.

Push cars and carts are another great way to improve your child’s muscle movement and gross motor skills. When your child learns how to push a car, make them push their cars on an inclined street to build their thigh and calf muscles.

5. Bead Threading Activity

Bead threading is a fun yet very important activity to build fine motor skills and develop hand-eye coordination in young children. Without proper hand-eye coordination, kids cannot perform even the simplest tasks. Try different colored beads with wide holes and tied laces to make thread different patterns of beads together. You can also find various wooden bead toys online or in a toy store that require kids to thread beads in combination, like clothing, animals and foods, and other simple combinations.

6. Lego Bricks Construction

Building with LEGO, wooden, or soft blocks, fine pressing and pulling movements improve fine and gross motor skills and encourage creativity in young children. Help your child stack and connect, make towers with blocks, and create different figures, shapes, and objects. Using Lego to construct creative objects can be a great way to play together and develop your child’s fine motor skills. As children build and even pick up LEGO pieces, they will build stronger muscles in their hands and improve coordination.

7. Puzzle and Fishing Games

Picking up and placing puzzle pieces helps develop pinching movements and improve their ability to hold things between their thumb and first finger, also called pincer grasp. When you play puzzles and activity-based games with your child, like fishing games, arranging blocks to make a picture, sorting cards, etc., you not only polish your child’s cognitive abilities but also develop fine motor skills. Your child can sometimes be impatient when trying to complete a puzzle and give up sooner than anticipated. However, you must be more patient and help them find difficult puzzle pieces. Your child can improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills with easy puzzles and bigger pieces. Once your child gets their hands on easier puzzles, you can slowly move to the harder ones.

8. Play Dough Activities

Playing with tactile and flexible materials like play dough can help your child develop fine motor skills and show their creative side by experimenting with various colors and shapes. There is a variety of play dough available with shaping and molding tools. If your child is habitual of eating play dough or other potentially harmful things, you can make your play dough at home with easy and safe ingredients.

9. Coloring, Drawing, and Painting

Drawing, coloring, and painting are one of the most exciting activities for children. While you get to spend some quality time with your child, you also work on enhancing their fine motor skills and bringing out their creative side. You can stimulate your child’s imagination and strengthen their hand-eye coordination by using various art materials like brushes, crayons, oil pastels, finger paints, and chalk. Simple tools are available for young children to help them learn how to hold a pencil and brush properly.

10. Cutting Paper into Shapes

Scissors are an excellent tool for developing fine motor skills and improving hand-eye coordination and focus. Try drawing big shapes on colorful paper and help your child cut them out. Start by helping your child cut long strips or small random pieces to make a collage. However, using age-appropriate scissors with safe edges and a better grip is important.

11. Playing with Sand

Sand is known to be a great stimulus to encourage sensory development. You can you’re your child develop motor skills by using beach sand or Kinect sand. Cups are great for filling, pouring, and molding sand. Using spoons and small shovels also helps develop fine motor skills. Kinect sand is a great material for kids to learn how to mold sand.

12. Picking Things with Tweezers and Tongs

Once your child has developed fine motor skills, you can use tongs and tweezers to enhance their skills further and help them pick small objects like noodles, coins, marbles, uncooked or cooked pasta, buttons, etc., and put them in a container.

Final Thoughts

Developing gross and fine motor skills is a major milestone for any child. These easy and simple activities help your child develop gross and fine motor skills and stimulate their creativity and imagination.

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