When it comes to early years checks, indeed even your health visitor check-ups you will likely hear the terms gross and motor skills mentioned. We help explain what these are and how you can help your little ones develop theirs.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are the type of movements you might call small movements. Things like buttoning up a shirt, using a zipper, using your finger and thumb in a pincer action to pick something up, or using a knife/fork/spoon. Fine motor skills include using the fingers, toes, the tongue wrist and even lips.
Gross Motor Skills
Described as big movements i.e. sitting, standing, walking, rolling, balancing and so on, gross motor skills are equally important and focus on the feet, legs, arms and torso areas. These skills are important for every-day activities such as moving around, playing sport and games with friends, going to the toilet independently and more.
Your child’s personal child health record (their Red Book) will have some basic information about developmental milestones and a place for you to record when they achieve certain milestones. There’s no specific timeline parents should be “aiming” for as all guidelines are just that, guidelines.
It is important to remember that just because J at baby group can do something or T from the nursery has a skill perfected that your child “should” too. All children are different and develop at different speeds. They are all fabulously individual. Being individual some children simply find some things easier than others or learn new skills faster or slower than others.
Learning Through Play
From an early age babies and children start to develop motor skills through playing, from grasping a rattle to using a crayon to colour in.
Some examples of games, toys and activities that may be used to help little ones develop their fine and gross motor skills include (but are not limited to):
- Putting a jigsaw together.
- Stacking building blocks.
- Sticker books (placing stickers in the right place) and colouring in books.
- Working with a range of construction toys, putting things together.
- Games which require hand/eye co-ordination such as fishing games.
- Practicing walking/running/skipping and climbing (for example at a soft play centre or at the park/in the garden).
- Threading beads onto string.
- Fitting shaped pieces into corresponding holes/places.
Your health visitor will give you an idea of what they would expect to see at during your child’s reviews and they will discuss with you if they feel that your child may benefit from some additional aid to help them achieve the skills they will need for the future. If this is the case they will help you arrange a referral to someone who would be able to work with you and your little one on a 1-1 basis.
If you have any concerns or worries, do speak to your health visitor or GP if appropriate.
Generally speaking, children simply do things in their own way and to their own timetable. If they need a little helping hand then no worries, this isn’t uncommon and there are people who can help.