Easy ways of developing fine muscles

2011-05-05 00:00

RECENTLY, I had to write some information — using a pen, instead of my keyboard — and very soon I sat in despair: how my fingers ached and how untidy my handwriting looked. I soon discarded the paper and reached for my laptop and quickly completed the task.

This did, however, make me realise, yet again, how important fine-motor development and maintenance are.

Yes, I am able to fly across a keyboard as well as a child can move a mouse or manipulate a computer game, and yet when it came to holding a pen, those tiny fine muscles began to complain and give in. If our children are to succeed within the classroom and within life at large, we need to prepare them not only mentally, but physically too. We usually do this by ensuring they are able to run, catch a ball, climb the jungle gym and jump over a log but we forget that it’s their hands and eyes that will be used the most during their school career.

As parents then, we have the responsibility to ensure that from a young age our children are engaging in activities that require them to use their fine muscles. These are all the small muscle movements, such as using your fingertips. Just like the body’s large muscles, such as the biceps, the fine muscles need to be exercised in order to become strong.

Many parents know that developing these muscles is important and something we need to work at, but they are at a loss as to where to start. The exciting part is that, like most developmental activities, fine muscles can be developed though play and day-to-day activities. Here are some ideas that you could draw into your life.

• Firstly, even though it may take longer, allow your child to try doing things for himself or herself before you help out. Even if he or she is not able to open the jar or do up buttons, by trying he or she has worked on strengthening the muscles.

• Let your child help look after his or her own bodies by being given the opportunity to wash and dress himself or herself.Allow children to brush their own hair and put on their own shoes.

• Draw them into your day-to-day activities such as cutting up vegetables, pegging washing on the line, sorting the cutlery and washing the dishes.

• Allow children time to draw, cut, stick and create. A simple idea is to spend time regularly making cards and gifts for birthdays, so that when you need one it is on hand. Have some wrapping paper pictures that a child can cut out and some decorations he or she can add to brighten the picture. Even peeling off and adding stickers develops fine-motor skills.

• Drawing in an upright position such as on a chalk board is very good for fine-motor and shoulder-girdle development too.

• Puzzles, stamping, tracing, play dough, threading, painting and colouring all allow ample opportunity for fine-motor development.

One can, therefore, see that there are many free and easy ways to help our children develop fine-motor skills. We must, however, constantly remember that, just like the large muscles, the fine muscles don’t only need to be developed but also maintained. It is therefore important that we don’t only develop these skills within our children, but create an environment that requires them, and us, to keep using them. This can easily be done by drawing them into household chores and not allowing them to only work on the computer, but to do hands-on activities regularly too.

• Real Life Learning

• Learning Through the Senses

• Parenting Today — Who’s the Boss?

These workshops will be rerun in a full-day workshop in Hilton on May 14, from 8 am to 3 pm. Cost is R150 per workshop, or R390 for the day. Teas, lunch and manuals included.

See website www.susa-parentcenter.com or call Joanne at 071 352 3496 or e-mail joanne.madgwick@gmail.com for further details.

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