Six Benefits of Fine Motor Skills

As parents, we see it happening quicker than we can believe.  You new baby, born sleeping for hours, crying, eating and pooping.  Soon, they are starting to notice the world around them.  We see their first smile, and with great effort starting to reach for items in front of them.  Before we know it, their hands are opening up, fingers are moving and starting to come play in the game of exploration.  

Fine Motor Skills are developing and strengthening from the beginning of life.  It is the requirement of using the small muscles in fingers, hands, and forearms.  It's an essential part of growth and development in a child.  As parents, we smile and laugh at the first forms of our kid drawing "mommy" or "daddy."  The progression tends to look like this:

Drawing progression in a child  

As we can see, developing fine motor skills are important, but what is the benefit to strengthing these tiny muscles? 

Here are 6 important things a child learns when developing fine motor skills:

1) It helps children perform crucial tasks like reaching, grasping, and moving objects.  We all want to have the ability to control and manipulate things and objects in our environment.  Without fine motor skills, we can't do the simple things like button or zip a jacket, turning pages in a book, or sign our names on important documents.

2) Through fine motor skill development, children learn to use tools like crayons, chalk, pencils, and scissors.  As adults, we wouldn't be able to cut our food, draw or paint a gorgeous picture (or the best we possibly could).

3) Hand-eye coordination improves as fine motor skills improve. Without hand-eye coordination, we wouldn't be able to sew, drive a car, wash our hair, drink from a cup (we couldn't drink our coffee!), put our shoes on, hit a baseball with a bat (okay, that task is still difficult for some), or simply reach for the object we want 

4) Fine motor skills help kids learn and develop handwriting and drawing skills.  An extremely important part of school work involves these two tasks.  Think of the tracing letter sheets used in pre-schools and kindergarten; they help hone in on those small muscles!  

5) Children become more independent and understand how their bodies work.  They can start bathing themselves, wiping their bottom when going to the bathroom and washing their hands well.  Brushing their own hair, teeth, and clothing themselves.  They also learn if they move X body part this way, they can cause Y to happen. They understand that picking up a pencil and holding it properly helps them have better strokes when writing a story or captioning their latest drawing.  They can manipulate the way a scissor cuts paper by turning their hand or wrist a certain way.

6) As children grow in their fine-motor skills, their self-esteem grows too.  They learn how to have an impact on the world around them.  Children can be selfish souls, but they are also very compassionate beings.  Building confidence and self-esteem can help them realize the influence they can have in society.  Which is a pretty awesome thing!

It can take years for a child's fine motor skills to mature to our level. Some are quicker than others.  And children with certain learning + attention issues may have a harder time developing these skills.  If we are patient and provide the environment they need to work on these skills, our kids will blossom to the best they can be!  We encourage you to get on the creative side with your little ones.  Help them learn and explore while having fun together.  Will it be messy?  Maybe.  Depends on the activity.  But the beauty of knowing that you're helping them strengthen those little muscles is knowing that part of the workout is having them help clean up too. 

Here are 3 activities you can do with your child to help them develop their fine-motor skills:

1) Bring out the Play-Doh!  If you don't have play-doh in your home.  It can be really inexpensive to get.  You can buy a pack for under $10 on Amazon.  If you're a prime member, it's free 2- day shipping so no need to wait long for it to arrive on your doorstep!  If you want to get really crafty and make your own, here is a great recipe from The Imagination Tree.

2) Finger Painting!  What a fun task and it is perfect for the young toddler!  Many kid's paints on the market are washable and non-toxic.  We are huge Crayola fans in our home.  For under $10, you can get Crayola's My First Finger Paint Kit!  If you'd like to make your own, here is a great simple recipe from Easie Peasie Co.  If you are looking for an EDIBLE finger paint recipe, we've made vanilla puddling, separated into separate dishes and added food coloring to each for the desired colors.  Here is another great edible finger paint recipe from Diary of a SoCal Mom.

3) Coloring with small crayons, chalk + pencils.  Just grab some paper, break up crayons/chalk in half and let them have at it.  Making kids use smaller utensils helps them to develop a proper pencil grip.  So, skip the fat crayons! Need some coloring sheets?  You can receive 5 free exclusive coloring sheets when you sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter! Just click on the link and scroll to the bottom to enter your email address!

BONUS ACTIVITY!

Want to use scissors??  Here is a FABULOUS activity to make some Valentine's Day Decorations from Aunt Annie's Crafts.  

Paper Heart Garland

Tricia Lee

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