Does your child struggle with eye-hand coordination and pencil control? For many, it’s just a matter of time until they improve through natural development and typical practice. For others, targeted interventions may be needed to strengthen weak muscles and improve left-right (bilateral) coordination.
Parents and teachers often focus on tracing letters and numbers, and other repetitive actions using pencil and paper. These efforts can help, as can tasks involving the use of fingers, like picking up small objects or sorting items. You can find lots of exercises online that focus on small muscles to strengthen fingers. See this site from Australia, and watch for opportunities to incorporate these types of skills into your child’s routine.
While these approaches can certainly be helpful, activities involving large muscles can also boost fine-motor performance. After all, kids need to have enough strength in their arms and hands to manipulate a writing instrument the way they intend—and to continue the effort for an extended period without tiring. Their mind knows where the pencil should go but often their muscles fail them. Good fine-motor coordination also requires the ability to move easily from left to right, top to bottom, and vice versa.
Below are some well-known activities that you can work into an indoor or summer schedule. With time, focusing on large muscle activities that require motor planning and bilateral (left-right) coordination can result in better fine-motor performance!
10 Gross Motor Activities to Help Fine Motor Skills
These types of activities are recommended by physical and occupational therapists who work with children. There’s many other options, but you can start here and plan to include one or more from the list each day!
- Balloon volleyball
- Jump Rope
- Folding towels, putting clothes in drawers, making beds
- Playing on the monkey bars in the playground; climbing ladders
- Playing catch with different sized balls or beanbags
- Playing kiddie-style basketball
- Animal-walk races (imitate a crab, an elephant, a bunny) or Wheelbarrow Race
- Child lies on stomach, using elbows to prop self up while doing puzzles, reading, or watching TV.
- Simon-Says (using challenging poses!)
Take advantage of the free ideas included on these sites. (Some may also offer paid services.)