Regardless if your child is already in school or working on kindergarten readiness skills, they can sometimes present difficulties with tasks that require fine motor skills. Although most children are not challenged with gross motor skills like jumping and running, it is the fine motor skills that need more precise smaller muscle movement and control that they struggle with. Since fine motor skills are essential for your child to learn for writing and other activities, it's important that you ensure they are continually improving on these skills.
Difference Between Fine and Gross Motor Skills
Fine motor skills use the child's smaller muscles such as in their wrists, fingers, and hands. They use these skills when they hold small items, write, button their clothing, eat, turn pages, use computer keyboards, or cut with scissors. It takes coordination and precision to master fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills are usually learned before fine motor skills and use large muscles groups. They need less precision and control actions like kicking or throwing balls.
Signs of Fine and Gross Skills Difficulty
Once your child is in school and you still have some of the following concerns below, you might wish to involve your child's teacher for help. They might recommend additional help from an occupational therapist or your pediatrician. Some signs of difficulty with fine and gross skills include:
- Your child can't decide on which hand they want to use for activities that use fine motor skills.
- Your child's movements are stiff or shaky.
- Your child's hands and arms seem weak.
- Your child can't draw basic shapes like a square, circle or triangle.
- Your child can't cut along curved or straight lines with scissors.
- Your child is finding it difficult to print numbers or letters.
What You Can Do
The best thing you can do for your child is to continue practicing and having them use their fine and gross motor skills as much as possible. Some activities you can try with them to help develop their skills include puzzles, finger painting, video games, Legos, and tracing letters and shapes.
Activities like these will focus on the smaller muscle groups which can help your child develop muscle memory. This is where the repetition of a particular action results in that action being performed almost automatically without putting in too much effort. Take a video game controller for example. It can be difficult to press the correct buttons the first few tries; however, as you play the game more, you begin to master the buttons. Whether you master the game itself or not doesn't matter, but pressing those buttons becomes second nature after a while to jump or run in the game.