A few weeks ago at school, I watched a child waving his hand in front of a soap dispenser. When the soap did not appear, he then proceeded to tell me that the dispenser was empty. I showed him that he just needed to push the handle, and the soap would come out. After he finished washing his hands, he then waved his hand in front of the paper towel dispenser which was also not automatic. Although I did get a giggle out of the entire ordeal, I was reminded that our children are living in an entirely different world than the one I grew up in.
The world is changing at an unbelievably rapid pace, and technology plays a central role in this advancement. Gone are the days when children played freely outside. Their time is now constantly consumed with organized activities and entertainment. With less time spent playing outside and more time sitting in front of screens, one of the primary things our children miss out on is the opportunity to strengthen their fine motor skills.
I recently came across an excellent article that provides some key insights and information that all parents of preschoolers should read. The article explains how important it is for children to build their core and small muscles and describes the negative effects that a lack of fine motor skills can have on children. Many kids are now entering kindergarten without the basic skills needed to hold a crayon or marker. Teachers are spending time teaching skills that used to be expected at the kindergarten level, and many children are now requiring time with an occupational therapist.
You can find the article here: “Losing our grip: More students entering school without fine motor skills”
Here are a few ideas of ways to help your child improve these important skills:
- Tear paper
- Cut play dough
- Scissor time
- Sidewalk chalk
- Use a spray bottle (you can even do this at bath time)
- Use a clothespin to pick up small objects
- String objects on yarn
- Put coins in a piggy bank or jar
- Less screen time
Each of our life skills build upon one another. When we eliminate one skill, even unintentionally, it has an impact on other developmental areas across the board. The natural integration of these practices will strengthen the core of your child, so be intentional with the activities that you bring into their environment.