April 30, 2024

What are Fine Motor Skills?

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Every parent’s heart brims with pride and joy when their little ones take their first strides, start to run, or bring them their favorite toy. While these moments will remain etched in your memory forever, they are also key milestones and accomplishments for your child. At each stage, they exhibit and develop motor skills essential for learning and functioning. What is a motor skill? How do motor skills develop? What exactly are fine motor skills? What can we, as parents do to help improve our child’s motor skills? Read on to find out all about it.

What are Motor Skills?

Almost everything we do involves motor skills. Swiping or using your mouse to scroll through this article also involves motor skills. While we build and improve our motor skills with every task we perform throughout the day, the most essential of them are picked up in childhood. Your newborn starts to flex and build motor skills from the moment they step into the world!

Motor development involves a combination of gross and fine motor skill proficiency. Babies begin by working on gross motor skills and then move on to refine their fine motor skills as the months progress.

Difference Between Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Let us start by addressing two frequently asked questions, what are gross motor skills and what are fine motor skills?

Notice how your infant begins to move their arm, sit, crawl, move, or even walk within the first few months? Body movement, balance coordination, and most physical activities involve exercising large muscles in the body. These are typically termed gross motor skills. Clasping objects, picking up things, or drawing are classic illustrations of fine motor skills.

Motor skills are like a child’s ticket to the world. They are critical in helping children discover things around them. Through this, your child also experiences sensory and speech development. Gaining mastery over motor skills also helps children build their personality.

It’s often amusing to see children determined to feed themselves without help or wear their shoes on their own. As they become more adept at movement and control, children also start becoming more independent and capable. This is essential in helping them meet their developmental milestones. As a result, they also gain confidence.

Understanding Fine Motor Skills

If you are wondering what are fine motor skills and how can you monitor your child’s motor skills, this is what you can look out for.

As children grow, their smaller muscles start to develop in strength and capability. Not only are kids becoming more dexterous at this stage, but also starting to improve their hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills not only help perform more complicated tasks like threading a needle or wearing one’s buttons but also build on control and precision in tasks as well. This is why you will notice that when fine motor skills develop, your child stops scribbling on the page and starts to color within lines. Whether in building creatively or in artistic prowess, being able to engage in independent self-care (like getting dressed or going to the toilet oneself), or being more active and agile, fine motor skills are critical.

Fine motor skills can typically be classified into three categories:

  • Academic: Several skills and activities fall under this domain. Cutting and folding are typical craft examples. Being able to grip a pencil, scribble, draw, write, and color are other important skills that are academic.
  • Self-care: This is among the most important aspects that involve the development of fine motor skills. In terms of maintaining hygiene, children demonstrate their fine motor skills by brushing their teeth, combing their hair, and being able to use the toilet. While dressing, you may notice them being able to do up their zip, open or close the buttons, buckle up their belts, and tie their shoelace. While eating, being able to pick up one stick of carrot, reach for their sipper or bottle, use a fork or spoon, and open their lunch bags or boxes are some skills worth monitoring.
  • Play: Of course, children want to maximize their playtime! Dressing their dolls, being able to pick up and stack blocks, working complex mechanisms like trains and tracks, and solving puzzles are some tasks that not only engage but also showcase fine motor skill development. If you love watching your child unleash their creativity while playing with their Lego kits, you can thank their fine motor skills for it.

Development of Fine Motor Skills

Most parents, and almost all first-timers wonder what is motor skills development for children. From infancy, there are several age-appropriate milestones children are expected to achieve. Do remember that every child is different and grows at their own pace and in their own way. However, knowing what to look for in your child will not only help you watch the fine motor skills develop in your child but also help you plan ways to engage your baby to help them grow.

While the first six months are all about gross motor skill development, you should start noticing some progress in fine motor skill improvement thereafter. Important milestones include:

  • At 6 months: While the most visible movements will involve gross motor functioning, you will notice your baby attempt to hold things in their hand, even if only for short spans.
  •  9 months: As motor and eye-hand coordination start to improve, babies now begin bringing objects towards their mouth or passing them from one hand to the other. You may also find your infant starting to build a pincer grip. The pincer grip is formed using the thumb and index finger. This helps them pick up smaller objects.
  • 12 months: As they hit the one-year milestone, your toddler now does many things with purpose and intent. They will hold and release things at will, be able to point to things accurately and pick relatively small objects out of containers and boxes.
  • 18 months: This is when your fridge will probably start to boast of loads of artwork! Your toddler may not be able to squiggle and scribble without much help and hold a crayon quite comfortably. They may also start using a spoon to eat and drink from their cup.
  • 24 months: Stacking a few blocks, pointing to pictures, and turning pages are some skills that children start to show by this age.

Tips to Help Improve Fine Motor Skills

Working on fine motor skills can be loads of fun! Here is a list of things that you can enjoy with your children to help them build their fine motor skills while having a blast:

  • Crush it: Just crushing paper can help your child with finger and wrist strength. Get out all the unwanted, recycled paper at home, and make some paper balls. You can add a level of complexity to this by making your child drop the balls into a box.
  • String it: All you need for this task is some string and beads. If you don’t have beads, try using macaroni or penne (uncooked, of course). Get your child to string the macaroni or beads on the thread. You can even use shoelaces with preschoolers or toddlers.
  • Place it: Take a heap of coins and get your child to pick one at a time. They then need to place it in the slot of a piggy bank. This is great for hand-eye coordination, the pincer grip, and precision.
  • Attach it: Get out some clothes and clothespins. Now ask your child to squeeze the pins and attach them to the clothes. Once they’re better at it, you’ve prepared a prime candidate to dry out the washing! (While engaging them in this task, encourage them to use the thumb and index finger to open the pin. This will help them immensely when it comes to gripping the pencil)
  • Knead it: Kneading clay is another great activity. If you have some dough to be kneaded for your cooking, you have a buddy waiting to practice and help!
  • Pop it: Use a bubble blower to send sprays of bubbles around the room. Get your child to use their index finger to pop as many bubbles as possible.

While you will find several games available to help work on fine motor skills, these are simple tasks and DIY activities that can help recreate the same fun while building key skills.

Fine Motor Skills–The Final Take

Every child develops, learns, and progresses at their own pace. Motor skill development is fundamental to being capable, independent individuals who can perform and integrate into social settings. Understanding what is fine motor skills and being able to assess how motor skill development is taking place in your child is not only important for you as parents to understand their development and growth, but also to help them find ways to accelerate their learning journey.

The Annual Prodigy Club by Raising Superstars is perfect to help you plan activities, quests, and exercises that can not only help build fine motor skills, but also improve ancillary skills like creativity, intelligence, and general awareness. After all, raising a superstar needs a superparent, and the superpowers are yours for the taking!

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