Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fine Motor Skills

Does your child have difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing and cutting? If so, then you'll probably find my next series of posts helpful. I'm going to be providing some resources, tools, and tips that will help with the development of fine motor skill and/or visual motor skills.

You may be wondering what the difference is between these two terms. Fine motor skills are the coordination of small motor movements in the hands and fingers that allow us to manipulate small objects with precise control. Fine motor movements usually occur in coordination with vision. This ability to coordinate motor movements with visual information is called visual motor skills.  

In order to be adept with visual motor skills, your child needs good vision and a strong foundation. That foundation begins with the stability of the trunk, shoulder, and neck muscles, also known as postural control. Development occurs from the trunk outward. For example,  a baby learns to roll over and sit up before they gain skilled control of their arms and hands. So if a child is having problems with visual motor skills, it's likely that they have some weakness or incoordination in the trunk, shoulders, and/or neck. That's why it's so important for infants to be exposed to plenty of tummy time from the first days of life. Tummy time and crawling play a big role in the strengthening of the important muscles that lay a strong foundation for future fine motor skills.

You can spot trunk weakness by noticing if your child frequently slumps with a rounded posture when sitting. You can also have your child lie on his stomach and ask him to stretch his arms and legs out and "fly like superman". If he has trouble assuming or maintaining this position, it's likely that there is some weakness in the trunk, shoulders and neck (also called the core muscles). Another good test of upper body strength is to "wheelbarrow walk" your child. See if he can propel himself without his arms collapsing while you hold him at the ankles or knees. An inability to do so also indicates muscle weakness.

If there is an issue with core weakness and incoordination, there are activities and exercises that your child can carry out that will strengthen these muscles. For the best result, at least 3 of these activities should be completed at least 3 times per week.

                                          Core Exercises
  • Play tug-of-war by holding each others hands, or use a towel, rope or therapy band.
  • Rowboat Game-You and your child sit on the floor facing each other and put your feet together. One of you lean back onto the floor without letting go of the other's hands, and the other pulls the partner back up, and continued.
  • Play "Frog" by squatting, hopping, and squatting again.
  • Crab Walk- Sit on the floor and place your hands on the floor behind you and lift your bottom off of the floor by pushing up. Propel yourself around the room like a crab.
  • Wheelbarrow Walks- Holding child at the knees or the ankles.
  • Squat to Stand- Stand up from a squatting position with arms outstretched, keeping heels on the floor and repeat. 
  • Airplane - lie on your stomach and lift your head, arms and legs. Hold the position for as long as you can.
  • Rocker- lie on your back, bend your knees and wrap your arms around your legs. Rock yourself back and forth.
  • Traditional Sit-Ups- provide support at the ankles.
  • Ball toss- have your child lie on the stomach on the floor, or over an ottoman. Have them pick up a ball and toss it into an empty box or garbage can. You can eventually use a slightly weighted ball or light wrist weights. 

Dear Readers, If you have found my blog to be helpful, please click here and "like" my facebook page...I'm trying to get my book published and this would be a great help! Thanks :)

AND the winner of the 16-inch therapy ball is "Hetha" or Heather, former middle school teacher turned full-time mom. Please contact me ASAP so I can ship this out to you. Congratulations!

1 comment:

  1. these are wonderful activities,will help me with my child so much,because he has core weakness as you mentioned