How to work fine motor skills?

Posted by Pascale de Montigny on

Émilie Petit is a pediatric occupational therapist at the For the Pleasure of Growing up clinic and mother of 18-month-old Maël.

Between 0 and 5 years, the child develops at a very rapid speed in several spheres. The game is undoubtedly what is at the heart of this development. A child who plays is a child who learns!

The development of fine motor skills is often a somewhat less easy sphere to observe. Yet, did you know that several studies suggest that 80% of learning activities offered in kindergarten involve fine motor skills? Whether it's through the manipulation of tools like the pencil and the scissors, but also the manipulation of the fasteners of his clothes, the opening of his containers at lunchtime and the manipulation of small objects in crafts!

As a parent, you have a key role to play between the ages of 0 and 5 in the variety of activities you offer your child. Occupational therapists see school-aged children who have developed less effective ways of picking up their pencils, who have fatigue when writing, or who have non-optimal postures for writing (slumps in the chair, for example). Many of these challenges can be prevented by providing multiple opportunities to manipulate objects through preschool games that don't necessarily involve crayons! These games can help consolidate the development of fine motor skills and prevent the child from compensating by adopting ways of moving or handling their tools that are less effective in the long term.

Here are several must-haves for fine motor skills. Activities to do and redo before entering kindergarten!

Play with stickers

What a great activity to start working on using both hands in a different task. One stabilizes the sticker sheet and the other peels off! This collaboration with both hands is essential to properly stabilize our sheet with one hand while coloring or cutting with the other. Using stickers also makes it possible to work on the coordination between the eyes and the hand, especially if you have a particular place or stick them on a sheet (a visual cue to cover for example).

Play with modeling clay

Plasticine helps a lot to develop all the small muscles of the hand. You could :

  • Encourage the child to make small balls and crush them with the thumb and forefinger.
  • Make rolls to cut with scissors adapted to the age of the child (can be introduced from 18 months first by observing the parent doing it).
  • Provide small dough, small diamonds, marbles to insert into the dough: then challenge the child to hide them and find them.

Play with lacing cards

Once again, this activity is great for working on the complementary use of both hands in addition to working on your coordination. The child must hold the card, pull the thread, understand the direction of the embroidery, adjust his grip on the thread, in short it is a very complete activity.

Play with blocks

A classic activity but oh! how rewarding and full of potential! For the little ones with large blocks to stack to make a tower or everyday objects like yogurt pots. In free construction, to begin with and with a plan afterwards. It is even possible to use blocks and make constructions with your eyes closed.

Vary the mediums and have fun!

Preschool is ideal for varying mediums and seeking to motivate the child in play. . Coloring placemats like this or like that, as well as stamp card boxes or giant coloring can be completed in several days. You can also vary the coloring positions (on your stomach, on the wall, on all fours, at the table).

Occupational therapists can help you find tips for your child to develop fine motor skills in everyday life while targeting specific components to work on. While it is true that starting school can help some children improve, it is often best to consult occupational therapy before starting school if you suspect certain challenges. In this way, we maximize the child's chances of experiencing success. Lack of interest in an activity can also hide certain difficulties! Like an adult, a child who has to exert a lot of effort to do an activity will try to avoid it if possible.

Have a good play session with your little ones!

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