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Melanie Barnett
BY Melanie Barnett

3 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Motor Skills

Both fine and gross motor skills are important parts of your child’s development. But what’s the difference? Fine motor skills use small muscles to do things like color pictures and grasp objects. Gross motor skills use large muscles to crawl, walk, climb or swim. 

If your child has developmental delays or special needs in this area, seeing a physical occupational therapist can help improve motor skills. It’s also important to work on fine and gross motor skills with your child at home

Read more about ways to help your child strengthen both their fine and gross motor skills at home.

1. Simple activities to add to your child’s daily routine

Playtime for your child is equivalent to work time in that each task your child completes helps them strengthen their muscles and develop muscle memory. Try these easy daily activities at home with your child to help improve their motor skills. 

Tips for developing gross motor skills:

  • Encourage your child to talk or sing as they play and move. Some children hold their breath if they are having a hard time with their motor skills, but this can make balancing more difficult.
  • Before teaching your child a new gross motor skill, make sure they are calm and in what therapists call “just right state” to learn a new activity. 
  • Find ways to combine multiple sensory systems such as rhythm, vision and balance into games. Have you and your child stand on cushions and sing a song while tossing a bean bag back and forth to the beat. 
  • Read more tips for developing gross motor skills.

Ways to strengthen fine motor skills:

  • One easy way to help your child develop fine motor skills is to encourage them to play with Play-Doh. Your child can use play scissors, rolling pins or dental floss to play.
  • Put different child-safe tools in the bathtub during bath time for your child to figure out how they work like tongs, strainers or turkey basters. 
  • Give your child materials to cut with child-safe scissors like magazines, newspapers or cardboard to help them develop hand strength.
  • Read more ways to develop fine motor skills. 

 2. Toys and household items to use during playtime

Incorporate toys and objects that can strengthen your child’s motor skills into their playtime. 

Try these household play ideas for strengthening fine motor skills:

  • Give your child cheerios in their high-chair or on the kitchen table to either pick up and place into a bowl or to eat.
  • Encourage your child to play with magnets on the fridge while you are cooking dinner. Have your child place the magnets in one corner of the fridge.
  • Give your child scrap paper to rip up and count the pieces.

Check out toys for developing fine motor skills and toys for improving gross motor skills.

3.  Outdoor activities to promote motor skills development

Check out these fun outdoor activities that can help your child improve their motor skills:

  • Allow your child to be curious and explore outside the different things they can find like grass, pinecones or leaves. They can discover what textures they like and what objects interest them to pick up and explore. 
  • Take your child to different landscapes like hills in a park, the beach or the woods where they can experience uneven surfaces and build optimal strength.
  • Encourage your child to ride a bike or scooter that will help them build coordination, endurance and strength.

Read more outdoor activities to help with motor development.

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