Playing brings more than joy to your child’s life; it also helps them develop their motor skills, or muscular coordination. By playing together with your child for even just a few minutes each day, you’re helping them develop important motor skills while building a stronger bond with your little one.
There are two types of motor development: gross motor and fine motor. Gross motor skills involve movements related to large muscles such as legs, arms, and abdomen. Fine motor skills are connected to smaller muscles in the wrists and hands used in activities like coloring or buttoning up a jacket. Gaining both gross and fine motor skills can increase your child’s sense of self-confidence and independence. Focusing on motor skills benefits brain development, too.
To challenge your child’s fine motor skills, try any of these fun, age-appropriate activities with your preschooler:
Build towers out of blocks, toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, or other small items. The action of pinching, grabbing, and placing all challenge those small muscle groups in the wrists and hands.
Play with playdough. Preschoolers love squishing playdough in their little hands, which helps develop those muscles. You can even make your own playdough at home.
Draw simple shapes or patterns on a piece of paper with a thick marker, and encourage your child to trace over those lines the best they can.
Cut out shapes with child scissors. Once your child has finished tracing your shapes, have them cut out the images with child scissors. It might be tough at first, but with a little bit of practice, they’ll get better and better.
Encourage your child to button and zip their clothes. Preschoolers often crave some independence and dressing themselves each day can boost their self-confidence while helping develop their fine motor skills.
Paint with cotton swabs, sponges, fingers, or other small items that require pinching and grabbing.
Because gross motor activities challenge larger muscles in your child’s body, they can be great exercise for your little one. Your preschooler might seem to have endless energy, which can be channeled into fun games that help them develop their gross motor skills:
Play “the floor is lava” game. If you have a playground nearby, challenge your child to get from one end of the playground to the other without touching the ground. You can also turn it into an indoor activity. Whenever you say, “the floor is lava,” your child has five seconds to get both feet off the floor. They can jump onto the couch, a chair, or a pillow on the ground. Make sure you set the ground rules first on what is safe to stand or sit on.
Hop, skip, and jump in the yard or at a park. Try creating a chalk obstacle course, where your child has to jump over a squiggle or balance on a line. You can even challenge them to copy what you’re doing and practice jumping on one foot, leaping, skipping, and jogging.
Turn off the lights and play flashlight tag. When the beam of the flashlight touches your child, then they have to tag you with the light.
Create your own sticky spider web game. Depending on the stickiness of the tape, your child can throw cotton balls, paper wads, tissue paper, or other items at the spider web.
Create a tape balance beam on the floor. Encourage your child to try walking along the tape or balancing on one foot at a time.
Developing gross motor skills can be so fun for you and your little one while benefiting their physical and cognitive growth.