Playtime is more than just having fun and building creativity (although that is also a critical skill). Playing games can also help them grow in other areas, like performing activities that help your child develop motor skills.
Read on to learn what you can do to help your child progress in their small motor skills.
Why Are Small Motor Skills Important?
Small motor skills refer to a child’s ability to move and touch their surroundings especially by isolating smaller body parts. This can be movement in the toes, hands, wrists, and more.
When a child develops motor skills, they strengthen their bones and muscles. These skills are important to help them build and maintain a healthy body as they grow.
Motor skills enable the child to do everything in life—which is why they are essential.
You can play games with your child right at the kitchen table with activities like:
- Building puzzles
- Magnetic fishing games
- Pegboard games
- Yoga Jenga – small motor coordination, plus add in movement!
Puzzles are fantastic for lighting up essential parts of the brain and activating skills like concentration, goal setting, shape recognition, and more.
Your child will also learn problem-solving, finger strength, and even develop memory skills.
A magnetic fishing game will build their hand and eye coordination, which is critical in developing motor skills. Similarly, a pegboard game can help them learn colors and enhance muscle coordination as well.
Teach your child the art of building with building blocks! Your child can learn the importance of shapes and improve their dexterity.
Building items will also help them understand the “whole” concept, as each piece is part of something bigger.
Engage your child by building with them and helping them learn teamwork and creative thinking. With building blocks, they’ll develop their motor skills and understand how to balance as well.
Arts and Crafts
By drawing and painting, your child will develop crucial motor skills and explore their creativity and imagination, which is important as well.
But you don’t have to stick with a pencil and paper—get creative! Encourage them to use chalk on the sidewalk (under supervision), finger paints, colored pencils, and more!
Try asking them to draw their favorite TV show character or something from their imagination and watch them develop many critical learning skills!
Along with arts and crafts, simply coloring is a great tool for kids to increase their small motor control. My students like to color mandalas, which have lots of small shapes to color in. We learn how to color them in patterns, and to start on the inside and work your way to the outside.
Yoga for Small Motor Development in Kids
Yoga can be particularly beneficial for helping kids develop small motor control because of the new and precise ways they will need to move their body. For kids that aren’t as interested in arts and crafts or using their hands to create and build, yoga can be a great alternative to developing small motor control.
Here’s how yoga can help kids increase their small motor skill development:
Many yoga poses involve intricate hand and finger movements, such as mudras (hand gestures) and specific finger placements. Practicing these movements helps strengthen and improve dexterity in the fingers, which is essential for activities like writing, drawing, and playing musical instruments.
Any yoga pose that you do can incorporate a hand mudra as well. Once they’ve learned a few, you can add them into your regular yoga practice at random or regular intervals.
Yoga places a strong emphasis on breath control. Children learn to regulate their breath, which can help them focus and relax. Controlled breathing also involves precise control of the respiratory muscles, contributing to fine motor skill development.
Yoga enhances children’s awareness of their bodies, including their limbs and extremities. This awareness is crucial for fine motor control as it helps kids understand how to move their fingers, hands, and wrists with precision.
Through yoga, kids learn to connect their mental intentions with physical actions. This connection is vital for developing fine motor control, as it allows them to consciously direct their movements.
Yoga poses that involve balancing or reaching for specific points help enhance hand-eye coordination. Giving them specific directions like where to move their hands and where to look with their eyes is very useful to emphasize this.
For example in Triangle pose, Say “Reach up with your top hand. Now look at that hand and wiggle your fingers”
Or in Tree pose say, “look at one thing to help you balance. Now keep your eyes there and put your hands on your hips. Hands on your shoulders. Hands on your head. Keep focusing on one spot!”
Concentration and Mindfulness
Practicing yoga requires kids to concentrate on specific movements and body sensations and body parts. This increased focus can transfer to other activities that demand fine motor control, such as writing, drawing, or intricate crafts.
Every time you give them specific directions about how to move a body part, breathe, or feel a sensation you are building their capacity for increased awareness and concentration.
Yoga encourages kids to become more aware of their bodies in space. Understanding the positioning and movement of body parts is essential for fine motor control.
Improved proprioception can help children make precise hand movements with greater ease.
Try poses once as normal, then then next time try it while closing your eyes! Try the pose on yoga blocks, or a balance board next!
Partner poses are also a great way to become more aware of our bodies in relation to others around us.
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Yoga promotes relaxation and reduces stress. When children are relaxed, their muscles tend to be less tense, which can improve their fine motor skills. Tense muscles can hinder delicate movements, so relaxation is essential.
Gross Motor Skills Leading to Fine Motor Skills
Many yoga poses require the development of gross motor skills first, such as balance and stability. These skills lay the foundation for fine motor control as children learn to control larger muscle groups before refining their small motor movements.
Work on balance poses every day, a little at a time. Try to balance on one foot while brushing your teeth or reading a book!
Play with ribbons or scarves and do some large motor movement combined with specific hand and wrist movements, or rotations at the elbow/shoulder.
Patience and Persistence
Yoga teaches patience and encourages children to persist in their efforts to master various poses and movements. These qualities are valuable when developing fine motor skills, as progress often requires consistent practice and refinement.
To help kids specifically focus on small motor control, you can incorporate yoga poses and activities that involve intricate hand and finger movements, such as mudras, finger stretches, and hand balances. Don’t forget about large motors movements and balances that will then lead to more awareness and concentration of their bodies in general!
Now it’s time to starting teaching your kids yoga!
Here’s a few awesome articles with ways to incorporate yoga games and sequences into your life with kiddos
- How to Play Engagingly Creative Kids Yoga Games with your Students
- Fun and Easy Kids Yoga Games to Play with Your Kids at Home
- Sun Salutations to Do with Kids: A Fun and Energizing Yoga Practice
- Enticing Partner Games that Teach Mindfulness for Kids
Have fun and be mindful together 🙂