Great Ways to Build Fine Motor Skills
While we think of handwriting skills in school-age children, early development plays a role in children gaining pencil control. There is so much we can do to build those early writing skills before children pick up a pencil!
Developing large and fine motor skills is the basis for handwriting skills and the proper instruction. Often when working with older or early elementary students who struggle with handwriting, I will embed some work with fine motor skills.
Practicing Skills Through Play
Practicing fine motor skills is a natural part of play and helps develop muscle control for handwriting. Play is a wonderful way to practice many hidden skills needed on the educational journey.
The beautiful thing about play is that it often encompasses many skills that later transfer to educational expectations. The practice of fine motor skills is a natural part of play that links to handwriting later on.
A baby will typically develop this skill of using their index finger and thumb to pick up items between 9-10 months of age; however, the true pincer grasp is when a child uses the tips of their fingers (index and thumb) to pick up manipulate small objects.
The practice of fine motor skills is a natural part of play and helps develop the necessary muscle control.
Fine motor skills, also related to hand-eye coordination, are critical to healthy childhood development and academic success. This requires coordinating small muscle movements in the fingers with what our eyes are seeing. We use our fine motor skills to guide our hands and fingers in reaching and grasping.
Everyday Ways To Practice Fine Motor Skills
- picking up small objects (beads, beans, etc.)
- transferring small objects from one place to another
- playdough/therapy putty
- using tweezers or tongs to pick up small objects like pom-poms, beads, toys, etc.
- building blocks
- shapes sorting game
- matching puzzles
- tracing lines
- sort and seek games
- eating finger foods (happy mat)
- So many more!
Handwriting, in turn, helps students store letters as linguistic symbols. When students have the precise motor sequence for forming each letter, it is automated and recalled without conscious effort. This automaticity leaves mental energy for the written composition of writing. Students who struggle with automatic letter writing will also struggle with putting thoughts onto paper because their energy is expended on forming letters instead of content.
While the pincer grasp is only one piece of development that leads to how to write and hold a pencil, it is an essential skill that children can develop through play. What is better than that?!
What are some of your favorite ways to build fine motor skills?
- Chenne Daig