Did you know that fine motor activity in a child’s early years help them refine their pincer grasp (grasping an object with their thumb and pointer finger using their preferred hand) and that that is a precursor to handwriting? By practicing picking up, manipulating, and exercising the small muscles in the palm of the hand you are actually enabling your child to gain control and strength while coloring, drawing, cutting, and forming letters or writing when age appropriate. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Many children who do not have strong fine motor skills become more easily frustrated while doing tasks that require writing which can lead to poor self-esteem, anxiety and stress.
As an Occupational Therapist, my primary recommendation to parents is always PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS EVERY DAY! Here are some ideas for strengthening small muscles and increasing fine motor skills...
Games like Operation, Lite-Brite, and Trouble (if age appropriate) that reinforce a pincer grasp. ⠀⠀
Hide beads or other objects in putty or play dough and have you child pick the “dough” apart using a pincer grasp. ⠀⠀
Use chopsticks or tongs that make picking up and releasing objects fun while building strength for writing – they are also fun to eat with! Try having many fun bits and pieces for your child to gather like pom-poms, cotton balls, quarter sized rocks, bottle caps, chalk, and pieces of broken crayons. ⠀⠀
Have your child use short thin writing implements. Golf pencils, broken pieces of chalk, broken crayons and thin short paint brushes to paint with work best because those materials reinforce a pincer grasp. ⠀⠀
Invite your child to help with meal preparations and/or serving. If age appropriate, have children cut vegetables with supervision. The cutting process also encourages the use of bi-lateral skills (using two hands in unison while doing a task). ⠀⠀
Kneading dough and rolling/cutting out cookies are also a great strength building and sensory activity. ⠀⠀⠀
It’s never too early to start! ✏️ In fact, early intervention is the key 🔑 So, go play and above all else HAVE FUN with your little ones!