After being a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for over 20 years I am often asked to help children with their fine motor skills. You know, the “basics” like cutting, coloring, and tool use. Actually, fine motor skills are anything but basic! They are a combination of joint mobility, muscle balance, coordination, attention, planning, endurance and more. More importantly these basic skills lay the foundation to a lifelong mastery that we need to navigate through life.
So, here are my top 5 Real Life fine motor skills that you can incorporate into everyday life using everyday stuff at home.
1. Bimanual Coordination:
This is what is needed to complete anything that requires using both arms working on the same activity. Sometimes both hands are doing the same thing sometimes one hand becomes the stabilizer the other does the moving.
Activities to try at home: Lacing shoes or lacing cards are great activities to get good practice with bimanual coordination.
2. Pre-cutting Skills:
These skills can start with simple tearing exercises using the thumb and the pointer finger. They will lead to snipping and cutting with scissors. Bonus: tearing and cutting develop the side of the hand needed for pencil grip.
Activities to try at home: Tearing packages (Amazon prime to the rescue!) and tearing paper.
3. Finger Hand Strength:
This is what little hands need to develop endurance to complete many of the tools they use to play with and later cut, color and eventually write with!
Activities to try at home: Playing with putty or making playdough. Invite Abuela over for empanada making (and then dinner is ready too!)
4. Weight Bearing:
Weight bearing allows children to get weight through their arms and shoulders that will develop muscles needed for stability so that little hands can manipulate and control objects as they explore their world.
Activities to try at home: Go to the park and practice the monkey bars. Start with hanging on for as long as they can and build up from there.
5. Finger Isolation:
This is what hands need so they can manipulate tiny objects with finesse and control.
Activities to try at home: Remember “Where is Thumper Song?” (It’s actually super important!) Also, play with some cute finger puppets.
Daily practice is best. Incorporate your favorite activities into your daily routine and fine motor skills practice becomes natural and fun. Let me know how it goes!