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5 Reasons Fine Motor Skills are Important - Special Needs Australia

5 Reasons Fine Motor Skills are Important

Fine Motor Skills allow us to perform everyday basic tasks such as doing up our buttons, writing our name, cutting with scissors, opening lunch boxes, using a knife and fork and brushing our teeth.

These basic tasks are essential to everyday life, especially when children start school and they no longer have their parents around to help.

Children build fine motor and gross motor skills through practical playtime. With touchscreen devices becoming more prominent in everyday life, kids are getting more screen time and less playtime which is essential in developing the muscle strength required to complete tasks such as holding a pencil.

Taken from ABC News: Handwriting a struggle for more children, expert says, as NAPLAN gains stall

Australian children are finding it increasingly harder to hold a pencil due to overuse of keyboards and touch screens, an occupational therapist says.

Development being stalled

Ms Davies said the more children played with tablets and phones and the less time they spent outside on slippery dips and climbing trees, "the further their developmental milestones are being pushed back".
"Play is the way children learn," she said.
"Lots of parents are coming to me and when I ask them what their child's favourite toy is, they say it's an iPad.
"Many of us swipe with the middle finger and it has become the main 'doing' finger," she said

  1. More often teachers are seeing children struggle to write, making it harder for students to focus on learning the curriculum. 

    I have seen that some students spend a majority of their energy focusing on how to form letters, rather than what words they are writing. These students also struggle with fine motor tasks such as colouring and cutting. These students often lack confidence as well as engagement when participating in any writing task.
    By Jodie Janice Keifer

  2. Fine Motor Skills have a significant effect on a person’s academic performance later in life.

    Research has shown that due to the significant amount of time spent performing fine motor tasks, and the impact that difficulties in this area can have on a student, that development of fine motor skills are an essential component in a child's overall development. Studies have also shown that fine motor performance in kindergarten is a strong predictor of later math and reading achievement. Fine motor skills November 7, 2017 by Sonya Moriarty

  3. Fine Motor Skills effect children’s confidence in the classroom.

    Taken from Kids OT: The importance of starting school competent and confident. 

    ‘Fine motor skills among pre-school aged children are among the best predictors of later performance on standardised achievement tests in the first grade and at the end of primary school’.

    Rather than allocating all of their brainpower to remember how to spell a word or thinking of what to write next in their story, children with a deficit in fine motor skills will be required to use a lot of their cognitive effort just to control their pencil on the page. If a child lacks speed or endurance in their writing, they will take longer than their peers to complete writing tasks, may regularly leave tasks incomplete and subsequently fall behind in class.

    Fine motor skills are also essential for children to have independence outside the classroom. A child with poor fine motor ability may have to find a teacher every time they need to unzip their school bag, tie their shoelaces or open a packet of food at recess. Evidence suggests that children with a deficit in their fine motor skills are more likely to demonstrate emotional and behavioural issues as well as low self-esteem often due to being ridiculed by peers.

  4. Fine Motor Skills can affect a child’s behaviour in the classroom. 

    Research suggests that children and adolescents with identified motor coordination weakness are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety and even depression associated with their perceived lack of competence in motor activities (Losse et al., 1991; Skinner & Piek, 2001).

    Therefore, it is important for teachers and parents to be aware of the impact that fine motor skill performance, or a child’s perception of their own fine motor performance in relation to their peers, may have on the child’s overall behaviour in the classroom. Working to help children develop the best fine motor skills possible at a young age helps to set the stage for success in school and at home, and more so, contributes to them feeling good about themselves. It also has huge run-off benefits for teachers who can then concentrate on teaching concepts of information rather than focusing on the mechanics of cutting, gluing, or writing.
    By Finger Gym

  5. Fine Motor Skills are essentials to helping children become independent.

    Taken from Finger Gym: Self-care skills are one of the first ways that children develop the ability to plan and sequence task performance, to organise the necessary materials and to develop the refined physical control required to carry out daily tasks (e.g. opening lunch boxes, drawing or standing to pull up pants). Self-care skills act as precursors for many school related tasks as well as life skills. The term ‘self-care’ would suggest that these skills are expected to be done independently and in many cases, it becomes inappropriate for others to assist for such tasks (age dependent of course). More specifically, many preschools and schools will have a requirement for children to be toilet trained prior to starting at their centre.

    When self-care skills are difficult, this also becomes a limiting factor for many other life experiences. It makes it difficult to have sleepovers at friend’s or family’s houses, to go on school/preschool excursions, children may standout at birthday parties if they are not comfortable eating and toileting independently, they may experience bullying or miss out on other social experiences as a result.

Don’t worry parents if you are concerned about your child’s Fine Motor Skills there are lots of resources available to you free and paid.

Remember if in doubt you can visit a local Occupational Therapist to get some expert on advice on how to help your child.  

Fine Motor Resources, to support your child's handwriting and finger development 

Hand Fidget Sensory Child

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ABC News: Handwriting a struggle for more children, expert says, as NAPLAN gains stall

- Kid Sense -
- Kids OT: The importance of starting school competent and confident
- By Finger Gym
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