Motor skills refer to the muscle functions and specific movements of the body that are required for everyday activities🚶🏽♀️.
I would say that motor skills are essential for physical growth and overall development and are an important aspect of children’s early childhood.
Motor skills play a crucial role in physical development as they are necessary for kids to perform everyday tasks and movements and allow them to perform activities in a coordinated and efficient way.
They also are the foundation on which the academic and functional skills of your kids are built, which are essential as they grow into an adult.
Why is Motor Skills Development in Holistic Development Important?
I believe that motor skills development in kids is important for their holistic development, which refers to the growth of a person in areas like physical, social, mental, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
Here, I have listed the reasons behind the importance of motor skills development in the holistic development of kids –
Physical coordination is the ability to move efficiently and quickly, and motor skills help kids in this aspect.
Motor skills aid physical coordination, as they help synchronize the muscles necessary to perform various actions for kids to do their daily tasks and move their bodies effectively.
Motor skills development is essential for kids to facilitate their ability to move. These motor skills are an integral aspect for your kids to move deftly and enable the movements that kids do daily.
The coordinated movements of the large muscles and small muscles together help in the development of your kids’ motor skills.
Interaction with their Environment
Motor skills allow your kids to interact with their environment well, and this can help them interact with other people and in school.
These motor skills can influence your kids positively and how they function in play, physical activities, academics, and interact with their environment and the people around them.
Role of Motor Skills Development in Holistic Development
Motor skills development plays a vital role in the holistic development of kids, which is the overall development of kids.
Holistic development in early childhood for kids includes a few key elements – physical, cognitive, social, emotional, educational, and spiritual.
Physical development involves the development of these motor skills – gross motor skills and fine motor skills- that contribute to kids’ overall well-being and their ability to use their large muscles and small muscles to perform movements and everyday actions.
Key Aspects of Motor Skills Development
The two key aspects of motor skills development are –
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills refer to the ability of kids to perform movements that are physical in nature with the large muscles in their arms, legs, and torso.
Gross motor skills play an important role in everyday movements, physical play 🪁, and sports 🏸.
The five basic gross motor skills are walking, running, sitting, standing, and jumping.
A few other gross motor skills are skipping, hopping, throwing a ball and catching a ball ⚽️, riding a cycle 🚲, climbing the stairs, sitting up, standing on one foot, and rolling over, to name a few.
Gross motor skills also form the foundation of motor skills in kids and aid in the development of their fine motor skills.
The benefits of gross motor skills include –
Improved Physical Coordination
Gross motor skills help kids improve their physical coordination to perform physical activities and daily tasks efficiently.
Gross motor skills help kids improve their ability to balance, which is essential for basic movements and various physical activities for kids to maintain control over their bodies.
Gross motor skills help kids improve the physical strength 💪🏼 required for body movements and muscle functions.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills refer to the ability of kids to perform movements related to everyday tasks with the small muscles in their fingers, wrists, and hands.
Fine motor skills include precise and controlled movements and focus on the dexterity ✍🏼 of kids.
A few examples of fine motor skills are writing, drawing, coloring, cutting with a pair of scissors ✂️, picking up food with forks and spoons, tying shoelaces, opening and closing jars and containers, measuring with a ruler 📏, and turning keys and knobs to name a few.
Tasks like drawing, cutting, threading beads, and buttoning clothes can enhance the fine motor skills of kids as they provide kids a chance to work and develop their fine motor muscles and control and manipulate their fingers, wrists, and hands according to the nature of the tasks.
The benefits of fine motor skills include
Improved Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination is a crucial aspect required for kids to perform daily tasks, and they can work on improving this with fine motor skills.
Precision helps kids move their hands in a coordinated way and with a certain level of control to complete tasks with the help of fine motor skills, which involves their grasp and muscular release of the fingers.
Ability to Perform Detailed Tasks
Fine motor skills provide kids the ability to perform detailed tasks as they control and manipulate their fingers and hands in a manner that allows them to complete the tasks with detail and precision.
Provide a Sense of Independence
Fine motor skills prepare kids to perform basic everyday tasks by themselves without the need for a parent or adult, which makes them do things independently, like eating, getting dressed, tying shoelaces, cutting paper, and so on.
Strategies to Foster Motor Skills and Development
As a mother of two kids, I want to let you in on a few strategies that you can adopt to foster motor skills and development in your kids, which I have divided based on different age groups.
During the Infant and Baby Stage
- You can adopt tummy time for your infants and babies for a few minutes every day, and you can gradually increase the amount of time for them as they develop and strengthen their muscles.
- You can place your kids’ toys around them to encourage them to move around by stretching, crawling, or running to reach for them.
At the Age of One
- You can make your kids play games and sing along to songs for them to listen to and imitate.
- You can give them toys that have moving parts for your kids to play.
- You can let your kids turn the pages of the book as you read out to them.
At the Age of Two
- You can take your kids on regular walks in the garden or a park nearby to allow them to explore and discover things around them.
- You can pass a ball to your kids and then make them pass it back.
- You can encourage your kids to build towers with many blocks.
Between the Ages of Three to Five
- You can ask your kids to help you with simple everyday chores around the house.
- You can involve your kids in arts and crafts activities.
- You can make your kids run between two marked points.
- You can challenge your kids to stand on one foot and count how long they are able to do so.
- Physical activities play an important role in developing gross motor skills and in helping kids use the large muscles in their arms, legs, and torso to perform actions and movements.
- Opportunities for fine motor skills in daily life can get your kids to use the small muscles in their fingers, wrists, and hands to perform tasks and everyday actions, like writing, drawing, coloring, cutting, folding, and so on.
- Play for kids can help them improve their motor skills as they play with toys 🧸, balls 🏀, and objects 🪁 that they engage with using their fingers, hands, arms, upper bodies, and legs.
A few hours of play provides the perfect opportunity for them to coordinate and control their large and small muscles while your kids can have a good time.
Obstacles and Solutions in Motor Skills Development
There are a few obstacles in motor skills development of kids –
Lack of Physical Activity
When there is a lack of physical activity 🤸🏽♀️, your kids will also experience difficulties in developing their gross motor skills, which are necessary for movement.
This would lead to problems of balance, posture, and developmental delays in kids.
Limited Opportunities for Fine Motor Skills
When kids are exposed to a limited range of opportunities to practice their fine motor skills, they lose the power to control and manipulate objects with their fingers and use their wrists and hands efficiently to perform everyday tasks.
Some kids go through developmental disorders that can affect their motor skills development.
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), which is also known as Dyspraxia, is a chronic condition that leads to difficulty in the coordination and control of physical movements and affects gross motor skills.
There are a few motor development milestones for each age for you to keep track ✔ of your kids’ ability to perform certain movements and see how kids are doing concerning motor skills development and their progress.
Motor development milestones 📍 are mere guides that serve as a reference point to the motor skills that kids generally develop and can perform at a certain age. You should keep in mind that each child has their own pace of growth, which means that sometimes their motor skills development might not align with the milestones chart.
Sometimes, kids experience motor delays that obstruct their development, and these delays restrict their ability to coordinate their large and small muscles and develop their gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Kids who face gross motor delays can find it difficult to move efficiently, and those with fine motor delays become incapable of holding on to things and performing everyday tasks.
In regards to developmental delays, there are conditions that make motor skills development difficult, and this affects gross motor skills and fine motor skills of kids, such as –
– Achondroplasia, a condition that shortens the limbs.
– Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disorder affecting the posture and movements of the body.
– Muscular Dystrophy is a group of muscle diseases that results in the weakness and breakdown of muscles that are necessary for movement.
There are also a few ways that you can adopt for kids to overcome these obstacles in motor skills development –
Provide Safe Spaces
I encourage you to provide a safe space for your kids in order for them to engage in physical play.
Safe spaces allow kids to play, explore, discover, and work on their motor skills, which in turn helps them in their day-to-day movements.
I believe that play is essential for kids to improve their motor skills, and you can include play time in their daily routines for a few minutes.
Incorporate in Daily Routines
I recommend you incorporate fine motor skills into the daily routines ⏰ of your kids by getting them to perform tasks that involve using their fingers.
Self-care tasks, like tying their shoelaces, closing and opening their zippers, opening and closing their lunchboxes, etc.
Fun activities, like coloring, drawing, kneading clay or playdough, threading beads, etc.
Seek Professional Help
When you notice changes in your kids and their inability to perform motor skills, you can seek professional help if needed by contacting your kids’ doctor 👩🏽⚕️ to consult with them to figure out the necessary course of action to help your kids develop their motor skills.
Consultations with pediatricians 👧🏽 and physical or occupational therapists 🧠 can help your kids to a large extent as they lay the groundwork for you as a parent to understand the situation and how this can be tackled going forward.
The Role of Key Individuals
I cannot deny how important the role of individuals like parents, teachers, and community members can contribute to the development of our kids’ motor skills.
Parents, teachers, and community members can provide opportunities with a variety of tasks, activities, and games for kids at home 🏡 and school 🏫 to develop their motor skills and encourage them on their path of motor skills development.
Key individuals can foster the motor skills of kids by creating an engaging environment to enhance their development and help them build a strong foundation for their future.
I would also like to share a few strategies, resources, and tips that you can utilize to prompt the motor skills development of kids –
- You can make your kids develop their gross motor skills by consistently engaging in activities that promote movements that involve the use of their large muscles.
Some examples of activities they can do regularly are – make them run, jump, crawl, hop as a part of the activities in the form of Simon Says, dance 💃🏽 parties, obstacle courses, hopscotch, playing in the playground , etc.
- You can make your kids practice fine motor skills regularly, which can be incorporated by doing activities that involve the use of their small muscles.
Some examples of activities they can regularly do are –
fold paper, cut paper with scissors, shape modeling clay, mold playdough, make origami 📄 shapes, fold clothes 🧣, thread lacing cards 🧵, string beads, make shadow figures, etc.
- You can make your kids improve their object control abilities with the help of a ball and come up with activities for them to bounce, throw, and catch the ball 🏀 for kids to learn and practice how to control objects with their hands.
- You can incorporate activities that can improve and develop motor skills in your kids’ daily routines so that they develop their motor skills over time. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
- You can encourage them to practice motor skills consistently and diligently with various activities and complete tasks with different materials to aid their development.
- Some resources you can utilize to improve your kids’ gross motor skills are balls, stairs, trampolines, playground equipment, balloons, cycles, obstacle course-related objects, and so on.
- Some resources you can utilize to improve the fine motor skills of your kids are sheets of paper (Origami), playdough, beads, lacing cards, spinning toys, modeling clay, empty glass jars, scissors, clothespins, crayons, colored pencils, shoelaces, and so on.
Motor Skills and Development and School Readiness
I would say that the motor skills development of your kids also contributes and has a direct relationship with their school 🏫 readiness, which is the ability for kids to make the transition into a school environment successfully.
School readiness involves a wide range of skills like the basics of academics, self-care, language and social skills, physical capabilities, emotional regulation, and so on. In this case, motor skills help kids perform effectively in school environments with tasks, play, and sports.
This is where motor skills play a role as they help your kids work independently to do basic functions, and when kids have strong gross motor skills and fine motor skills, it prepares them for school routines and reflects on their school readiness abilities.
Another aspect is that motor skills have an influence on a child’s ability to participate in the activities done at school and complete them with ease and efficiency.
Motor skills come into play during school activities – sports and classroom tasks.
- Gross motor skills aid kids in sports 🏏 as they run, walk, jump, bend, stretch, throw and catch a ball, kick a ball, and so on, and lead to better physical movement.
- Fine motor skills aid kids in classroom tasks 📚 as they write, draw, color, turn the pages of books, fold papers, cut papers with scissors, and so on.
Another aspect of school readiness is self-care 🛁, and fine motor skills come in handy for kids to tie their shoelaces, button their clothes, and open their lunchboxes, reflecting the ability to take care of themselves due to good motor skills development.
Thus, motor skills development in early childhood plays a major part in the lives of kids and helps them function better while also complementing and enhancing other aspects of their holistic development.
I hope this detailed guide on motor skill development in early childhood for kids was helpful and informative for you to understand the topic better and equip your kids with motor skills to enrich their future. 😊
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.