What’s So Important About Developing Fine Motor Skills Anyway?

You may have heard your neighbor talk about how a certain toy is helping Sally develop her fine motor skills and wondered "What does that really mean?" or "What's the big deal with fine motor skills?" The reality is that the beginnings of fine motor skills lay the foundation for necessary everyday abilities later on.

Fine motor skills are basically the things you do with the small muscles in your hands and fingers (e.g. playing a musical instrument or putting legos together) as opposed to actions that require the bigger muscle groups of the legs and torso (e.g. walking or swimming). These skills matter because they involve joining together lots of smaller separate abilities to better explore and control the environment around oneself.

For babies this looks like grasping and reaching, which help them in learning about the sight, sounds, and feel of objects. For an outline of a baby's fine motor development during the first year of life, take a look at this article.

As kids grow up they need to learn everyday skills such as turning a doorknob and taking care of their hygiene, as well as academic skills like using a keyboard and cutting with scissors. Here you can find a list of common daily activities that require the use of fine motor skills.

A child who can't do these basic tasks is affected in many ways. It can lead to lower self-esteem, lower academic performance, and limited play options, as well as difficulties in hand-eye coordination.

Being on track with fine motor development early on in life makes it easier to pick up things like handwriting, making for a smoother transition into the school system. The harder it is for children to manipulate a pencil the more effort they will need to put into that task instead of learning what they are being taught.

Children with difficulties in fine motor skills are more likely to have a hard time developing independence because they can't do things like dressing and eating on their own. These things then affect kids within family and peer relationships as it becomes more challenging to relate to others.

To set your child up for success in areas from sewing to self-esteem, make time regularly to do activities with them that build their fine motor skills. Here is a list of activities divided into categories (e.g. scissor activities, sensory activities) you can do at home to promote fine motor abilities, and here you can find another 30+ exercises to strengthen those skills. This video demonstrates one of the fine motor activities that we here at Help Me Grow send out to parents as they complete our developmental questionnaires.

Overall, fine motor skills, as well as all other domains of development, make a big difference in a child's potential for growth, and you have the power to help them achieve that potential - starting when they are barely figuring out their hands exist. 

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Saturday, 26 September 2020

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