Motor skills are simply any movement or actions in which a child uses their muscles. Developing proper motor skills at a young age is extremely important, considering they are the basic building blocks of muscle coordination. There are two different kinds of motor skills, fine and gross. “Gross motor skills are larger movements your baby makes with his arms, legs, feet, or his entire body. So crawling, running, and jumping are gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are smaller actions. When your baby picks things up between his finger and thumb, or wriggles his toes in the sand, he's using his fine motor skills”.
Encouraging children to use their muscles is vital to their development. Various developing more refined skills as they grow. Motor skills are unique because they follow children well into adulthood, ranging from completing simple tasks such as holding a spoon to eat cereal or climbing into bed to go to sleep all the way to more complex tasks.
For toddlers, there are various fun things they can do to define such skills. Some examples that include:
- paste things onto paper
- clap hands
- touch fingers
- button and unbutton
- work a zipper
- build a tower of 10 blocks
- complete puzzles with five or more pieces
- manipulate pencils and crayons well enough to color and draw
- copy a circle or cross onto a piece of paper
- cut out simple shapes with safety scissors
The best way for you to help promote these and other hand-related skills is to provide your child with a wide range of materials to manipulate as her imagination dictates. Good choices include blocks, crayons, nontoxic and washable markers and paints, paste, glue, modeling clay, an easel, construction paper, safety scissors, a smock to guard against stained clothing, coloring books, and simple sewing cards.
Other simple motor skills that can be incorporated can include something as simple as crumbling up a piece of paper and then un-crumbling it. Children can also work on tracing letters, numbers, lines, and connecting the dots. All of these are incorporated into exercises in books for toddlers at Math Genie. It is important for parents to encourage their children to try these various activities. Just like any other muscle in the body, motor skills only grow stronger with time and a lot of practice!