Importance Of Developing Motor Skills In Children
The answer to what are motor skills lies in the fact that it refers to the body’s ability to manage the process of movement. To execute these motor skills, the brain, muscles, and the nervous system must work in tandem. It stands to reason that learning fine motor skills is a crucial part of child development. In fact, early childhood must offer the child ample opportunities to develop the strength, balance & coordination that are required to manage the process of movement.
There are a number of factors that affect motor development in children. These include:
✔ Heredity & birth weight
✔ Encouraging Environment
✔ Regular physical activity
✔ Balanced nutritional habits
Motor skills in turn take two forms:
✔ Gross Motor Skills
✔ Fine Motor Skills
Difference between Gross Motor Skills
Gross Motor Skills pertain to skills that involve large muscle movements typically in the arms, and legs. Fine motor skills, on the other hand, are small movements, usually in the hands & fingers. Gross motor skills, in turn, are divided into two categories- locomotor & object control skills. While locomotor movements do not require any objects, object control skills, as their name suggests, involve the use of objects. Examples of locomotor skills include running and jumping, while object control skills include throwing, pulling, pushing, and more. Fine motor skills on the other hand are largely linked to objects.
The difference between gross & fine motor skills would also be seen in the fact that typically children get to a level of proficiency pretty quickly with gross motor skills, while fine motor skills take that much more time.
The other difference with respect to gross & fine motor skills has to do with space. Gross motor skills could involve moving over a wide area while fine motor skills could involve a more confined area.
Let us look at Gross & Fine Motor skills individually in some more detail:
Gross Motor Skills
Gross Motor Skills are typically movements that are related to large muscles. Tasks related to Gross Motor, therefore, include walking, running, sitting, and more. There are many advantages that gross motor skills offer to the child:
✔ The movement strengthens the body
✔ It raises postural awareness
✔ Helps develop strong bones & muscles
✔ The vestibular system helps the body sense movement and maintain balance
✔ offers an avenue for the release of energy
✔ Helps release stress
✔ Other than aiding the physical body, the use of the entire body also helps the brain make important connections.
Gross motor skills activities include:
✔ General play that includes running, hopping, jumping, and more
✔ Action rhymes
✔ Splashing in the water
✔ Ball activities
✔ Using a tricycle
✔ Bouncing on a trampoline
✔ Obstacle courses
✔ Chasing bubbles, and more
Some of the gross motor development milestones for preschoolers include:
✔ Walking backward
✔ Jumping on one foot
✔ Doing somersaults
✔ Kicking a ball
✔ Learning movement routines
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills essentially involve the smaller muscles & need a higher degree of control & precision. Fine motor skills examples include brushing of teeth, dressing up, holding a fork & more.
Research shows that the development of fine motor skills depends upon the development of gross motor skills. Young children need to be presented with enough and more opportunities to develop both their gross & fine motor skills.
Advantages of fine motor skills:
✔ Help the child become independent as he or she can take to a wide range of tasks
✔ They can access a wide range of learning activities as well as social experiences
✔ Helps them undertake a wide range of self-care activities right from washing hands to brushing their teeth, dressing up, and more
✔ They help in hand-eye co-ordination which is crucial for carrying out a number of activities
✔ Learning to write
✔ Academic success
✔ Developing concentration
✔ It goes without saying that the above activities also boost the child’s self-esteem and confidence
Activities that help develop motor skills for 3-4 years old include:
✔ Use of play dough. Get them to squeeze, stretch, pinch, and roll it and add it to their sensory diet
✔ Painting. It helps in strengthening the child’s hand-eye co-ordination & also improves control & dexterity
✔ Gardening. See the child make use of hand-eye coordination as they transfer a seedling to the garden
✔ Tying of shoelaces
✔ Building things with blocks
✔ Cutting along straight & curved lines, and more
How to encourage gross & fine motor skill development in children
The best way to encourage gross motor development skills in children is through play-based activities. From playing Hopscotch to riding a scooter to ball games, there are a wealth of options that help the child build gross motor skills while having fun. That you also bond with the child in the process, is an added perk.
Even if the child cannot go outdoors or cannot play with his friends, there is a lot you can do. From getting the child to enjoy a dancing session to setting up a small obstacle course, there are enough and more things that are possible.
Additionally, you can help them develop fine motor skills through:
✔ Allowing them to help set the table with you
✔ Encouraging them to get dressed on their own
✔ Encourage drawing and painting
✔ Play board games and puzzles
At Footprints, we offer opportunities for children to explore & learn through a carefully designed methodology of the “ HighScope Curriculum” that encourages active participatory learning. The trained staff supports children to develop necessary skills in a safe, healthy & nurturing environment.