Guest post by Jenny Reyes
Note from Anne:
Even if this is for toddlers, older kids who need to improve on the skill can benefit from the activities below.
The original post can be found here.
As your toddler gets older, the development of their fine motor skills becomes even more crucial.
Finger strength, coordination and dexterity are terms often associated with this developmental aspect.
Apparently, building a toddler’s fine motor skills is a stepping stone to better performance in other development aspects, such as Math and Language (Writing in particular).
There are a lot of activities that help a toddler work on finger dexterity and make use of small muscle coordination.
A lot of the times we can inject fun into the equation, to make it even more interesting for them to try and do on a regular basis.
Here are a few suggestions to check out:
1. Play with Play-Doh.
Pinch, mold, roll, pound and grasp.
These motions strengthen a toddler’s pincer grip which is the foundation to the proper pencil hold. Also, Play-Doh is a venue to develop a child’s imagination and storytelling skills.
2. Age Appropriate Kumon Workbooks.
The First Steps workbooks Let’s Cut!, Let’s Sticker and Paste! and Let’s Fold! each have about 40 activities that focus on that specific function – all aimed to develop better hand control.
Alternate several of each activities per day to provide variety. Once they’ve exhausted these primers, you can explore the Basic Skills set which build on these activities further.
3. Let Toddlers to Snap, Zip, Button, and Tie Themselves Together.
Even if it’s more time-efficient to dress your toddler, think about the basic skills they miss out on when you do it for them.
Letting them zip up jackets or button shirts help with finger dexterity and mobility.
Just allot enough time for them to work through it themselves. The best part is, it’s an activity with no additional cost but has incremental long-term benefits.
4. Sort with Tweezers and an Ice Cube Tray.
Now here’s a fun activity that uses materials already in your home.
Take a clean ice cube tray, a pair of tweezers, buttons, little pompoms or colored cotton balls.
Ask your toddler to sort items into the tray slots by color, size, or quantity. Feel free to make up your own classifications for fun too.
The key to this activity is for your toddler to hold the tweezers using the proper pincer grip (thumb on one side, and the pointer and middle fingers on the other).
5. Download iPhone and iPad Activities.
While this may be a controversial topic for some parents, I’ve found good toddler-friendly applications that promote hand-eye coordination. Apart from building finger control, many are educational too.
Sam and I alternately work all these into her daily schedule as much as we can. In the last 8 months (As of the writing of this subject’s original post), we’ve all seen marked improvements and mastery in fine motor control.
Her teachers said that she spills less, she has a firmer grip on scissors, bottle caps and the like, and also has better pencil control.
Of course I don’t expect her to master these all at once, but it is a promising start for a three-year old.
Over-all it is a win-win situation for all parties involved. For toddlers, it makes learning necessary skills fun. For parents, any advancement in their children’s development is a win all on its own.
Jenny Reyes pens the blog, My Mommyology which is our featured blog of the month. She currently lives in Chapel Hill North Carolina, where she is a full-time student of the science of motherhood, with her two little girls as her prime teachers. She also moonlights as one of the partners in the marketing consultancy firm called Your Brand Story. Among other things, Jenny enjoys reading, traveling and scuba-diving.