Once school is back in session, kids are asked to complete many fine motor tasks. These involve the use of tiny muscles in the hands and fingers to accurately control things such as pencils and scissors. Fine motor skills are crucial for self-care and academic success, so if a teacher or therapist is concerned about a fine motor delay, it’s important to help your child catch up.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to encourage the development of fine motor skills at home while having fun. Try these ideas to offer a variety of engaging activities that will help your child with fine motor control.
1. Clothespin Scorekeeping
The next time you play a game where you need to keep score, ask your child to do so with spring-loaded clothespins and a piece of thick clothesline or ribbon. Simply add one clothespin for each point awarded to keep track. While doing so, your child will get a pincer-grasp workout.
2. Community Coloring
Invest in erasable colored pencils and a large poster for the whole family to color in. Bring this out and work on it together instead of watching TV, and talk about your day while you work. Let your child start with larger sections at first and work toward handling smaller details, erasing as needed to avoid frustration. You can invite anyone who comes over to contribute!
3. Lego Building
Lego blocks are highly engaging for kids of all ages, and clicking together the tiny pieces is perfect for building fine motor control of the fingers. Work your way from larger blocks down to smaller ones as your child develops more skill. Don’t forget to include pulling them apart to be put away for a double dose of practice.
4. Snowflake Snipping
Cutting with scissors can be very frustrating for kids with fine motor deficits. Cutting along dotted lines can lead to frustration and a feeling of "I ruined it!" so try cutting out paper snowflakes instead. Just fold square paper in half diagonally and then in half again; then, have your child use scissors to cut out shapes as desired. No two snowflakes are alike, so there’s no wrong way to make them.
5. Yarn Weaving
Transform a piece of cardboard into a weaving loom by cutting slits into opposite ends and stringing yarn across this backer. Then, have your child practice weaving pieces of yarn or ribbon over and under the warp threads to create designs. You can cut and tie the ends to make a keepsake, or undo the weaving to try again another day.