Are you wondering how you can be of help in your child’s physical development as he/she grows?
Children go through many changes from the ages 3-5 years and it is of utmost importance that parents do everything they can aid their development in this period.
For children, “Nothing is as important in this moment as movement.”
You must be wondering how you can do this.
Like always, we are here to help.
Motor skills play an important role in the physical development for your child.
Now, you must be thinking what exactly Motor Skills are.
Motor Skills Development in Your Child (3-5 yrs)
What exactly are Motor Skills?
A motor skill is any intentional movement which involves the usage of muscles to achieve mobility. In other words it is the ability to use your muscles to achieve the intended movement.
Motor Skills can be divided into 2 types depending on the size of muscles used:
1. Fine Motor Skill:
These are used for smaller actions like to hold, pick things up between finger and thumb or wriggling the toes in the sand.
But Fine motor skills aren’t just about fingers and toes, even when your baby uses his lips and tongue to taste and feel objects he/she is using fine motor skills.
2. Gross Motor Skill:
These are usually used to crawl, jump, sit, walk and almost all major body movements.
These skills are mostly developed during the early part of childhood. They are not easily forgotten in case they are not utilized for a certain period of time.
FACT: Motor skills develop differently in male kids when compared to female kids.
You would be amazed to know that motor skills tend to vary according to the gender as well.
Here’s a table to give you a clear understanding of the milestones that your child should reach according to his/her age.
Use these milestones as general guidelines only.
No two children develop at the same pace.
These are average ranges and not exact numbers.
What matters most is that your child progresses from one stage to another at a steady pace.
As a parent you should do everything you can to aid your child’s development and consult a health expert if you think your child isn’t reaching majority of the milestones or your child appears to be making no progress at all.
Why do you need to aid your child’s motor skills development?
The above-mentioned fundamental motor skills act as the building blocks for complex movements that play a crucial role later on in your child’s life.
The early childhood years are surely critical for children’s development.
In the short term, motor skills enable your child to engage in sports or games that require relatively advanced movement.
For example, your child needs to have basic competence at running, reflexes, throwing etc. to play cricket at a young age.
Hence, motors skills are directly linked to most physical activity enjoyed at a young age.
In the long term, motor skills development (or a lack of it) at a young age has been linked to amount of physical activity, cardio respiratory fitness and body weight by various studies.
Hence, it is important that you should take up an active role in developing your child’s motor skills as early as possible.
How can you develop your child’s motor skills?
Well, Let us check out some really helpful tips with scientific explanations that will definitely help you in developing your child’s motor skills.
Effective fine motor skills are crucial for positive performances in kindergarten and later on in school.
Fine motor skills refer to tiny muscles in the hands and fingers that allow your child to pick up objects, hold and use a pencil etc.
One scientist conducted a real world experiment on how to improve handwriting skills (& by extension fine motor skills) of 3 children (2 boys & 1 girl) in kindergarten.
They then received a series of interventions or improvement exercises.
These interventions included writing with pencils and markers, completing puzzles, molding clay, cutting paper with scissors, stringing beads, tracing lines to complete mazes etc.
Another helpful exercise is named as the ‘COIN-POSTING TEST’.
In this test, a child is required to use her/his dominant hand, while remaining seated, to pick up and drop coins into a box or a can.
This box has a small opening at the top that allows the coin to be dropped.
The child has to drop as many coins as possible within 30 seconds.
The interventions followed this schedule:
(You can bookmark this page and follow this schedule for your child as well to develop his/her Motor Skills.)
|Week 1||Pincer Grasp||Peeling stickers, using clothes pins to pick up cotton balls, stringing beads onto string|
|Week 2||Pincer Grasp||Peeling stickers, using clothes pins to pick up cotton balls, yarn weaving puzzle|
|Week 3||Whole Hand||Cutting with scissors, using a single-hand whole punch, molding clay|
|Week 4||Whole Hand||Cutting with scissors through stickers, using a single-hand hole punch, molding clay|
|Week 5||Pincer Grasp & Whole Hand||Peeling stickers, cutting through stickers, tracing over dotted lines|
|Week 6||Pincer Grasp & Whole Hand||Molding clay, cutting in varying patterns, using clothes pins to pick up cotton balls|
|Week 7||Pincer Grasp & Whole Hand||Stringing beads onto string, tearing paper, using tweezers to pick up objects|
|Week 8||Pincer Grasp & Whole Hand||Tearing paper, peeling stickers, cutting with scissors, using a single-hand hole punch|
This schedule was followed by 4 weeks of letter practice.
The handwriting was compared after 12 weeks of intervention.
The results showed that the handwriting and writing skills of all 3 participants improved significantly throughout the study.
At the start of the study, the 3 children were only beginning to form sentences.
But they struggled to form the letters and words.
But as their writing skills developed, they began to focus less on letter formation and more on spelling, punctuation etc.
In this manner, you can also develop your child’s handwriting and fine motor skills at the same time.
Some more ways in which your baby’s fine motor skills can be improved are available here.
2. HELP IN DEVELOPING GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
Children at this age are at crucial juncture where they are moving from infancy towards preschool years.
It is essential that they get a good amount of physical activity as they are in the stage of mastering and exploring movements of their body.
A group of scientists undertook a study to find a definitive relationship between motor skills development at a young age and physical activity.
They studied nearly 198 young children (3 yr. olds: 80, 4 yr. olds: 118) for the purpose of the study.
The rate of physical activity and motor skills were measured.
The main finding was that young children with better-developed motor skills spent more time in vigorous physical activity and significantly less time being dull and inactive.
This finding was more pronounced in 4 year olds rather than in the 3 year olds.
This was due to fact that fundamental skills were still in the process of emerging in 3 year olds.
To conclude, motor skills development (or lack of it) at a very young age tends to have an immediate positive or negative impact on physical activity as well as on the health condition of your child.
Recent findings indicate that infants spend 43 minutes of any given hour inactive. Such large periods of inactivity leads to potentially dangerous health conditions like obesity.
It doesn’t stop there. The origins of such diseases seem to stem from under-developed motor skills.
The well being of your child is your responsibility after all and the best part is you’ll build an amazing relationship with them by just being around while they grow.
3. ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES
As your child’s motor skill development (as well as other capabilities) largely takes place through interactions with you (the parents), family members, caregivers, other children etc., the environment in which she/he grows up is bound to shape their life in a profound manner.
Other important factors like the type of society in which your child lives, the school setting, the quality of living conditions, the family size & number of siblings and overall socio-economic circumstances also come into play.
A group of scientists in Brazil aimed to find out the exact nature of influence that the environment has on a growing child.
100 children aged 4 or 5 years old who were enrolled at either a day-care center or a private school acted as the participants of the study.
The children were analyzed and measured regarding their motor skills abilities.
The parents or caregivers of the children were questioned regarding the attributes that were considered as playing a vital role in the development of infants.
They were also questioned about their family, child and socio-economic history.
- Poor fine motor abilities among the children in the day-care center indicated the following risk factors – absence or lack of involvement of the father, lack of properly aware teachers & facilities and inadequate play surroundings.
- A variety of risk factors like breastfeeding for less than 3 months since birth, low family income etc. combined to affect children from low-economic levels.
- Restricted movement due to the usage of baby-walkers was also found to be a risk to motor skills development.
- Children growing up with single mothers also encountered risks. Fathers are required to improve the quantity & quality of learning stimulation at home.
Another study managed to summarize the research of environmental influences on motor skills development. These studies also provided recommendations for creating a positive environment that allows your child to develop positively. The recommendations are as follows:
a) A large evidence of research backs the assumption that a variety of intervention (or improvement) programs are vital for the motor development of pre-school children.
For example, musical instrument training has been proven to improve children’s’ skills like leaping, skipping and galloping.
b) Parents should foster a permissive acceptable feeling in their families.
This provides children with a healthy effective environment as well as plenty of opportunities for improving their perception and social experiences.
c) The choice of pre-school rounds up the recommendations.
Children today spend a large amount of time in pre-school settings.
Hence, it is crucial that your child is enrolled in a pre-school which provides adequate equipment, appropriate care, technical know-how depending on the age and sufficient opportunities for the development of motor abilities.
As parents, we should make sure we spend a good amount of time with our child in the first five years of their childhood.
A healthy and a happy childhood will definitely contribute towards a healthy and a happy future for your child. So, be an active participant in your child’s overall growth and development of body, mind and soul.