In Prep we are busy learning many skills that will assist us for the rest of our schooling and into adult life. Every morning we engage in play-based activities that develop our fine motor skills. Fine motor development is important in the early years as children’s hands are growing so rapidly.
We concentrate on five key areas of fine motor development: visual motor integration, finger individuation, open web space, pinch grasp and wrist extension.
Visual motor integration is the ability of the eye to direct the hand to complete motor tasks. It affects the ability to plan how to write letters, copy figures, cut with scissors, complete mazes and be successful in most sport activities. Activities that develop this skill include tangrams, building rock towers from a plan and copying different lines in sand or rainbow rice.
Finger individuation is the ability to move fingers in isolation. It affects skills such as turning a key in a lock, typing, self-care (buttons, zips), picking up objects and using tongs. To develop this skill, we take part in activities such as playing the piano, jumping frogs and finger pattern games.
Open web space is the space between the index finger and thumb. Having a closed web space affects the ability to accurately hold a pencil and form a pincer grip. It can lead to poor handwriting and writing fatigue due to compensation and use of other muscles in the arm. Focus activities to develop an open web space are squeezing stress balls, watering the garden with spray bottles and cutting.
Pinch grasp manipulation is the ability to pinch an object between the tip of the thumb and pointer finger. It affects the ability to tie shoes, use tweezers and pick up small objects. Using tweezers to move pom poms, marbles, peg boards and threading are ways that we practise this skill.
Wrist extension plays an important role in handwriting. The position of the wrist determines how well a child can control a pencil and affects their finger mobility. We paint on vertical easels to develop our wrist extension or build towers as high as we can.
In just a few short weeks of implementing fine motor mornings, we have seen an increase in manual dexterity and function in most students. We are looking forward to further developing our students’ fine motor muscles through engaging hands-on activities.
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