Simple Activities To Improve Your Child’s Motor Development
Children are developing motor skills from the moment they enter this world. Motor skills are actions and movements that are carried out when the brain, nervous system, and muscles work together to accomplish a certain movement. Both gross and fine motor skills are needed as children develop and learn to navigate the world around them.
Gross motor skills include those actions that involve large muscle groups—actions, like sitting up, rolling over, standing, and walking, are all considered gross motor skills.
Fine motor skills are those actions that involve more refined, subtle movements. Picking up and fingering small objects, learning to use a fork and a spoon, and learning how to write with writing utensils are all examples of fine motor movements. A child’s motor development is a critical piece of overall development and is often an indicator of overall academic success due to the rigorous demands of a school environment.
Doing what you can to improve your child’s motor development will help them to create connections in the brain as well; studies show that children who struggle with making those strides in motor development have fewer neural pathways than those whose development is on track. If your child is experiencing difficulty with motor development, try these fun and engaging activities to improve their skills:
1. Work with play dough or clay
Playdough, clay, and putty are considered staples of a sensory protocol; they can strengthen those muscles that aid in the development of motor competence. Encourage your child to pull, push, squeeze, roll, and manipulate this substance, using fun toys and even scissors to play. Have fun and get creative, knowing that you are improving your child’s motor skills with every play session.
Different types of painting can aid in the development of your child’s hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Finger painting, in particular, is fun for children, as it allows them to “feel” the experience with their hands and to get a little messy! With the use of a brush, children can increase manual dexterity and learn how to better manipulate brushes, pencils, and other writing utensils as tools. If your child has sensory needs, consider adding another layer of stimulation to the mix; add some scented paints for fun.
3. Play with sponges
Sometimes all you need for some motor stimulation is a bowl of water and some clean sponges. Fill one bowl with water and have another empty bowl nearby for filling. Have your child place the sponge in the bowl full of water, allowing the water to soak in thoroughly. Remove the sponge from the full bowl and have your child squeeze the water out into the empty bowl, going back and forth as needed to improve strength, dexterity, and speed. Add the use of food coloring or some glitter for added fun–just know that your sponges won’t be the same after your play session!
4. Have a rice race
Divide a handful of uncooked rice into two clean bowls, keeping an extra bowl handy. Give your child a small plastic tweezer and have them begin transferring rice to the bowl as quickly and efficiently as they can. Have a race to see who can make it to the fill line on the empty bowl first; make it a friendly competition! If grains of rice are too frustrating for your child, consider using cheerios or another small toy set that they can more easily grasp.