Motor skills are an important and significant part of a child’s development and they should be encouraged in the early years of childhood. Motor skills can be categorized into gross and fine.
Gross Motor Skills involves using larger muscles like arms, legs and torso. Activities that develop gross
motor skils work on body awareness, reaction speed, balance and strength. These include walking, running,
throwing, kicking and lifting etc.
Fine Motor Skills involves using small muscles in the fingers, hands and forearms. Activities that develop fine motor skills work on improving muscle coordination in wrists, fingers and hands, pincer gripe, hand eye coordination and precision. These include pencil skills (doodle, colour, draw, write), scissor skills (cutting), construction skills (pasting, fixing, stacking), scooping, spooning, transferring and self care skills (zips, shoelaces, buckles, belts).
Why are Motor Skills important in a child's development?
Motor skills, both gross and fine, encourage independency. Development of gross motor skills encourage a child to explore independently, eg, walking and running are great exercises that are important for a child's physical and mental health. Fine motor skills are required to perform everyday tasks like dressing, eating, putting on shoes etc. Good development of motor skills help children become more independent and confident in everyday tasks.
Do you know that fine motor skills are also essential for good and legible handwriting? Yes! Development of fine motor skills comes with hand eye coordination and cognitive abilities required for reading and writing, areas which are critical to a child’s learning in school. A child who do not have good fine motor skills may be easily frustrated when faced with fine motor tasks in school and this can lead to poor self-esteem, anxiety and stress.
Parents and caregivers can support a child’s motor skill development by providing them with plenty of opportunities and activities that work on their motor skills. For example, incorporating frequent walks in the park allows a child to practice walking and running (gross motor skills). Scooping, transferring and pouring activities are great and fun fine motor skills practice for toddlers.
The good news is that, in most cases of motor skill development, practice does, in fact, make perfect!