As we have mentioned before, the first years of a child are crucial for their future development. Therefore, it is important to support our children in each step of their development even if we consider that only certain skills will be relevant for their future. For instance, fine motor skills are very important as these involve tasks like tying shoes, writing or learning to feed themselves. Fine motor skills are developed after the first or second year of life, but it is important that we start early on to set the foundational elements that are necessary to foster them.
Fine motor skills are thought to be the small movements of muscles used in the hands and fingers to perform an action. Its development is important because little hands need to develop dexterity and strength. We, as parents or caregivers, can help this process by encouraging children to play, explore and interact with a variety of items. For example, in order to learn to fasten buttons, children first need to have a good pincer grasp to handle the button, as well as good hand-eye and bimanual coordination.
For this reason in our Genius Boxes, we have included items that can help to support some of the foundation elements of fine motor skills. These foundation elements are:
- Tactile Perception: If we are not getting good tactile (touch) feedback from our fingers, it is hard to be accurate with them. Therefore, it is important to let your baby experiment with different textures, shapes and details of an object. These sensory activities help to develop tactile perception.
- Hand Function: Hand and finger muscles must work well together to control pencils and other small objects and tools. In order to improve our child’s hand strength and dexterity, try giving your little one games to practice their pincer grasp, punch games, pop beads, and other interlocking objects. Tearing and crumpling paper as well as squeezing sponges are also great activities.
- Bilateral Coordination: There are different fine motor activities that need both hands to work together in a coordinated way. Therefore, bilateral coordination is important. Activities that involve clapping, changing objects from one hand to another, or banging two objects in front of their chest can help support the development of your baby’s bilateral coordination. Many of these activities are appropriate when your baby is as young as 6 months old.
- Postural Stability: is gained through the development of gross motor skills. Performing most fine motor tasks is very challenging without the development and stabilization of gross motor skills first. Finger movements will be challenging before proper wrist, elbow, and shoulder stabilization and strength is gained. Supporting your baby’s gross motor development can start in his first month of life with simple activities like tummy time while he is awake. These activities become more interesting as he is able to roll over, sit and crawl