No, it’s not what you’re thinking! I’m talking about fine and gross motor skills.
What are fine and gross motor skills?
Fine motor skills are smaller movements that use the small muscles like in the finger, toes, wrist and ankles. These are intricate movements that require a high level of control. Some examples include reaching, holding, grasping, squeezing, gripping, etc. Gross motor skills are bigger movements that use large muscles like in the arms, torso, legs, and feet. These are broader movements that typically involve the entire body or large parts of it. Examples of these include crawling, walking, running, jumping, hopping, throwing, etc. With each of these motor skills come milestones depending on a child’s age, however children do not have to meet these milestones at exactly the same time. It is vital that children are continuing to practice their motor skills because they lead into important life skills that are used throughout the rest of their lives. Fine motor skills are used when writing, typing, feeding oneself and dressing oneself, just to name a few. Gross motor skills help a child gain strength which can be used when playing sports and other physical activities. Both motor skills build confidence and independence in children, so they are able to start doing things on their own.
How do we incorporate fine and gross motor skills here at St. Luke’s?
The better question to ask is how do we not incorporate them! Pretty much every activity that our preschoolers engage in, they are practicing and strengthening their motor skills. Whether they are doing choice time in their classrooms i.e. squeezing playdough, practicing writing, painting, sorting colored objects, doing puzzles, etc. or exploring in the Outdoor Classroom, they are exercising their fine motor skills. When they are running on the playground, kicking a soccer ball on the field, riding a tricycle, throwing a basketball into the hoop, dancing during music and movement, they are practicing their gross motor skills. The practice and mastery of these skills is huge because it sets them up for success throughout the rest of their years in school, as well as in life in general.
How can I encourage and strengthen these motor skills at home?
This is probably simpler than you think! I mentioned quite a few activities above, but here are some other easy ways to integrate fine and gross motor skill practice at home.
Fine motor activities: Beading with a string or pipe cleaner with beads or other objects like shells or buttons, tracing, tearing (paper, tissues, newspaper), pinching (using plastic tweezers or tongs grab items), buttoning, tying (shoelace, ribbon, string). For infants, fine motor practice can be as simple as holding a toy or picking up/putting down toys, looking through a book, clapping two toys together, etc.
Gross motor activities: Throwing or kicking a ball outside, going for a run, learning to ride a bicycle, doing yoga, simple stretching, swimming, skipping, playing hopscotch, climbing on playground/park equipment. Infants can work on holding their head up, moving arms and legs, rolling over, holding themselves up, crawling, the list goes on!
Pretty much any activity that works on their muscle movements, big or small, they are strengthening their motor skills. Keep up the good work little ones!