Fine motor skills seem to get a lot of hype these days. If you are on Pinterest then you have likely seen dozens or more activities to promote fine motor development in your child. Why are fine motor skills so important?
Fine motor development is extremely important for your child to succeed in Kindergarten and beyond. Fine motor skills are a prerequisite for any small movement or skill that requires your child to use their hands. Using scissors, coloring, drawing, writing, putting together puzzles, buttoning and snapping, and tying shoes are all kindergarten skills that require fine motor development.
Recent research shows that a child’s fine motor development when entering kindergarten is highly predictive of their future success in reading and math. The National Center for Research in Early Childhood Education (NCRECE) examined three international, longitudinal studies done in 2007 which concluded that the role of a kindergartner’s fine motor skills is an accurate prediction of their future success in reading and mathematics. Based on these findings the NCRECE concluded that fine motor skills are a strong and consistent predictor of future success; furthermore, as a child’s motor skills develop and improve they will increase their opportunity to embrace a more diverse and challenging learning environment ultimately strengthening their cognitive skills and performance. Additionally, according to another research study, youth and adults identified with poor motor coordination have been shown to have a higher risk anxiety and depression corresponding with their perceived lack of confidence in motor coordination (Losse et al., 1991; Skinner & Piek, 2001).
Do these studies mean that if your soon-to-be kindergartener doesn’t possess stellar fine motor skills that they will not be successful in reading and math? Does it mean that if your 4 year old struggles putting together puzzle pieces they will become anxious and depressed? Absolutely not! These studies do strongly suggest that spending time promoting fine motor development through fun, play-based activities is extremely beneficial to your preschooler. Promoting fine motor development in your preschooler can be done in 10 minutes or less a day. For some very fun, but super involved, ideas check out my pinterest board (link at the end of the article). Here are some quick and easy fine motor ideas with materials that you probably have on hand!
Fine Motor Development Ideas
1. Play dough: Just the simple act of playing with play dough is strengthening your child’s hand muscles. To add some fun, let them use plastic cookie cutters, a rolling pin, or any other child-friendly kitchen utensil. Another fun option with play dough is to roll play dough into “snakes.” Then using kid scissors let them cut the play dough into little pieces.
2. Stickers: Peeling stickers is great for promoting dexterity in your preschooler’s small fingers. Try writing the first letter of their name really big on a piece of paper. Let them peel stickers off of the sticker sheet and “trace” the letter.
3.Beads: Using string or pipe cleaners let your child make a bracelet or necklace.
4.Lacing/Sewing cards: Either make your own or buy some lacing cards. Pushing the lace through these cards is excellent for fine motor development.
5.Puzzles: Puzzles are great for so many reasons, and fine motor development is one of them. Manipulating the small pieces really builds fine motor skills.
You will see a big improvement in your child’s fine motor development if you spend even 10 minutes a day doing one of the aforementioned activities, and the best part is that all of the activities are fun!
Find more activity ideas on my pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/amytradewell/preschool-activities/