Last week, I wrote about Motor Skills and what they are. This week, I would like to go into more detail on how you can help your child develop her cognitive and motor skills faster.
Is your child’s excessive exposure to screen time making you worried about your child’s mental and physical growth? Then this article will be your guide to plan your child’s day, packed with fun activities that would not only keep them occupied but also boost the growth and development of their cognitive and motor skills.
Before we dive into the details of planning activities for your child, let’s first brush up on our concepts of motor skills. Motor skills refer to skills that a child learns over time that help them move their body parts. We categorized motor skills into types; Gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills are the muscle movements that help us move larger parts of our bodies, such as our limbs, arms, and legs, our feet, our hands, or the full body. Examples of gross motor skills include running, jumping, swinging your arms, waving your hands, hopping, kicking, skipping, etc.
Fine motor skills are muscle movements of the smaller parts of the body. We utilize fine motor skills when we perform complex tasks that require precision, such as holding a pencil. Both gross and fine motor skills are learned skills that develop after birth and are crucial for the child’s cognitive and behavioral development.
Below is a list of activities that your children can be engaged in throughout the day that will help improve their motor skills:
Children can play hopscotch, which involves jumping and hopping on one leg. This helps them learn to balance.
Skipping rope or jump rope is also helpful for children to learn balance. It also helps strengthen hand-eye coordination, as it requires the brain, eyes, and legs to coordinate action.
Dodge the ball:
Dodge the ball game normally requires two teams. The offense team targets the defense team with a ball. However, you can improvise and play the role of offense team and teach your child how to avoid the ball. This would help improve the reflexes of your child and would improve coordinated bodily movements.
Football or soccer involves kicking a ball while running at the same time. This would help improve the foot-eye coordination of your child.
The game of basketball involves running and point-scoring through dropping the ball in the basket. Playing this game will help your child improve their hand-eye and their foot-eye coordination.
Potato Sack race:
Potato sack race is a hopping game in which the child wears a sack on their legs and then hops from the start line all the way to the finish line. This game helps improve balancing.
Kangaroo hop is another similar game in which children hop while holding an object between their legs, near the knees.
Wheelbarrow race is where you can hold your child’s legs and let the child walk on their hands. It is a fun activity that can help improve coordinated balancing movement between the two arms.
Toss and catch involves throwing an object and catching it. Two people can play the game or the child can play on his/her own. Toss-catch helps improve hand-eye coordination and handgrip.
Fine Motor skills
The development of fine motor skills follows the development of gross motor skills. These activities can help boost a child’s fine motor skills:
Blocks help younger children improve their hand grip and also help them learn to balance objects by stacking them on one another.
Dominos is a game that involves balancing the domino chips in alignment with each other. This requires proper concentration and helps improve hand-eye coordination.
Playing with Playdough helps children improve their finger grip. It also helps with cognitive development as children learn to portray their imagination as dough artifacts.
4. Bead Maze toys:
Playing with bead toys such as the wire maze shown in this picture helps children in improving their finger grip, typically known as the pincer grasp. Children also learn about different shapes, colors and get to practice logical thinking when sorting beads.
Painting helps hand-eye coordination and pincer grip. It also helps cognitive development as your child learns about different colors.
6. Blowing bubbles:
Blowing bubbles is an activity that involves the child using their hands to hold the bubble stick and blowing air with their mouth to blow bubbles. This enables the child to learn how to shape their mouth and to make a funnel shape, which then allows the air to be released onto the stick, resulting in bubbles. This activity involves hand-eye coordination. It also allows cognitive development as the children learn about controlling the air pressure as they blow into the bubble stick.
7. Scooping and transferring:
Scooping involves the use of a spoon. It helps improve the pincer grip of your child. It also encourages self-dependence when eating. Scooping fine objects like rice or grains can help your child learn how to concentrate and balance the objects on the concave structure of spoons.
Transferring involves moving objects with either the help of a spoon or tweezers, as shown in the picture below. This helps improve hand grip and hand-eye coordination. Color sorting of objects with tweezers can help cognitive development along with fine motor skill development.
8. Threading straws:
Threading straws onto a piece of string is a fun activity that can help your child’s concentration skills along with their pincer grasp. You can also improvise by having the children cut the straws into small pieces themselves, using a kid-friendly blunt end knife.
Fine motor skills development activities require putting some thought into what you want your child to learn. However, everyday activities, such as assisting parents in the kitchen, can also help children improve their fine motor skills. For example, while baking, you can ask children to assist you in mixing the batter or maybe decorating the baked items. This would help them improve finger control, pincer grasp, and steady use of hand balancing. You can also ask children to help you with daily cleaning and sorting. Moving household items from one place to another can also help improve gross motor skills (locomotion) and fine motor skills at the same time.