Strong fine motor skills are essential for success in accomplishing so many basic skills that it’s a wonder we don’t hear about them as much as we should. From zipping up your pants to tying your shoes to holding a pencil, having strong fine motor skills makes these seemingly simple skills completely do-able for little ones, too.
Most parents don’t know that fine motor skills, like any skill, need to be developed over time in order to give their child the best chance to be ready for school. Luckily, you don’t need to look too far to find some of the best tools for making your child’s transition to independence as seamless as possible.
1) Play dough
Play dough is a time honored favorite that cultivates creativity, color recognition, and math concepts; but did you know that it is an amazing fine motor tool, as well? Squishing, rolling, and ripping the dough helps strengthen hands, while pinching, pressing, and forming the dough helps refine the intricate movements of the hands. If you don’t have any dough on hand, don’t worry. You can easily make it homemade with flour, salt, and water!
Legos are great for so many reasons, but my favorite use is for fine motor development. Playing with legos is like integrating “sneaky school” into your child’s playtime. They won’t know that they are exercising those little fingers, but they will persist until they finish their creations. Age appropriateness is important, of course, but if your child is good about keeping toys out of their mouth, they are probably ready to give legos a try (under parent supervision, of course).
3) Coloring books
Don’t believe that those dollar store books can make a difference in your child’s education? Believe it. Gripping a crayon is very similar to gripping a pencil, and the more they color, the more you are able to refine that grip before they begin kindergarten. Kids love to color, especially if the pages are related to their favorite cartoon character. You’re likely to find coloring books almost anywhere, making it a good compromise when your child really, really, really wants to bring something home from the store.
Does your child enjoy using these tools? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below! As always, we’re thrilled to offer you the best advice on early childhood education. Be sure to check in weekly for new preschool themed posts!