Activities to introduce to your child to improve their motor skills

A motor skill is a function that requires specific movement of muscles to do certain activities. The permanent change in the ability to do a skill resulting from practice or experience is known as motor learning. The brain and the body muscles are taken to develop these skills. It connects and builds with all other parts of the child’s development- language, social-emotional, and behavioral.
Motor skills help to connect your child to new experiences.
Think about this- When your new-born reaches out his/her tiny hands, that motor movement of reaching out, grabs your attention and draws you physically and emotionally closer to your baby. This is a special moment for every parent.

Motor skills can be put into two categories: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Mastering both motor skills is essential for a child’s growth and development.

1) Gross Motor Skills:

Gross motor skills require whole-body movement and involve the large body to perform everyday functions like standing, running, jumping, sitting upright, etc. It also includes eye-hand coordination such as riding a bike and swimming.  It is also related to other abilities such as:-

  • Balance.
  • Coordination.
  • Body awareness.
  • Physical strength.
  • Reaction time.

Some ways to develop gross motor skills:-

a. Crawling –

Baby Crawling
Baby Crawling
  • Crawling is a significant milestone for babies. A child begins to creep or crawl by a maximum of eight months. It helps to develop
  • The vestibular/balance system
  • Cognition
  •  Sensory system
  •  Problem-solving skills
  •  Coordination
  • It allows the right and the left sides of the body to work in better coordination
  • Establishes body awareness in space

Provide your baby with plenty of tummy time starting from birth. Encourage them to reach out to toys they are interested in. This way, you can support them to crawl.

b. Rolling

  • Rolling over is the baby’s first experience in moving its entire body. It plays a vital role in developing the gross motor skills of the baby. It continues to strengthen his muscles, balance, and coordination. It is a big step in sensory balance.  Babies start to roll over from front to back in 4 months and from both front and back around six months. Rolling helps to
  • Develop strength in their head, back, and hips
  • It prepares them to sit and crawl.
  • Develop their sensory systems.
  • Make them aware of the environment around them.
  • Teaches them to use both sides of their body.

Just like the way you can encourage your baby to crawl, similarly, you can encourage your baby to roll by making them roll over to reach a toy or to reach to you. You can also make them lie on their back on a blanket and lift the blanket from one side and see if you can roll your baby to their side or tummy.

c. Chasing a ball-

Baby Chasing a ball
Baby playing with a ball

When the baby is trying to chase a ball, the gross motor skills improve. The baby learns to coordinate hand and eyes, and they also learn a sense of timing. It also helps build balance skills and teaches them to transfer an object from one hand to another.

2) Fine Motor Skills:

Fine motor skills coordinate small muscles in movements, usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers with the eyes. It develops between the age of 0-2 years.

Importance of fine motor skills:-

  • Helps to perform essential tasks like feeding themselves, holding toys, writing, etc.
  • It helps boost the child’s self-esteem and confidence as he learns to do everyday tasks himself.
  • It helps to strengthen their muscles and develops coordination.
  • Children become more independent and understand how their bodies work.
  • Brain development takes place simultaneously.

By keeping fine motor activities fun, the child would want to indulge in them more, and in the process, their movements will become more precise.

Some methods to develop fine motor skills are:-

a. Sponge game-

A clean sponge and a bowl of water are all you need to develop your child’s fine motor skills. Your child and soak the sponge in water and then squeeze the water out into the bowl. This simple game strengthens the hands and forearms. It develops the hand muscles and reasoning skills. To make the game more fun, you can also add food coloring to the water.

b. Playdough-

  • Manipulating play dough helps to strengthen hand muscles and develop control over the fingers. Snipping playdough sausages develop scissor cutting skills. It also boosts the creativity of the child. There are various ways to improve the child’s fine motor skills using play dough. Some include:-
  • Isolate the index, thumb, and middle fingers by putting a piece of paper under the ring and little fingers of the dominant hand.
  • Make a pot with the play dough. First, make a ball. Then insert the thumb in the center and use the index and middle fingers to pinch the outside of the pot.
  • Rolling small clay balls also improves muscle coordination.
Baby playing with play dough
Baby playing with dough

c. Crayons and Art-

  • Holding and manipulating writing implements represent one of the best ways to improve a child’s fine motor skills. Art creates immediate visual feedback. This helps your child to identify the best ways to produce the desired results.

Benefits:-

  • Hand-eye coordination is improved
  • Creativity is developed
  • Individual confidence is developed
  • Visual analysis and concentration are also established.
  • It also assists the child to express himself.

Developing motor skills is very important. If a child does not develop proper motor skills, then he may suffer academically down the road. It is essential that a baby be encouraged to develop them as they play a vital role in their overall growth.

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