I caught up with Carmen Dodds, Paediatric Occupational Therapist and a Ready Steady Go Kids Franchise Owner to chat about children's development of Fine & Gross Motor Skills and the importance of getting children involved in physical activity and sporting activities from a young age.
Recent research out of the UK has shown that children are not physically ready to start school at 4 & 5 years of age. They are not ready to perform tasks that are required at school age - sitting up straight, holding a pencil, etc.
There has been a decline in children's ability to perform these activities over recent years and a lack of being physically active, whether through sport and sporting activities or just physical activity around the home and the neighbourhood, effects our children's development of fine motor skills.
Take a listen to our interview here:
Here's some more of what Carmen covered...
We want to encourage the love of being physically activity in pre-school and facilitate a lifelong love of sport, so that it will help lay the foundations for creating a good attitude towards a healthy lifestyle which will hopefully continue through childhood, and into adult life.
Milestones for a toddler.
- Learn to gain more balance
- Become more confident in their motor abilities
- Test out new skills – move whilst holding toy, bend down and get up; climb stairs; jump and run
- Fine motor skills begin to develop – use utensil and crayons
- Coordination is consolidated and fine motor skills establish
- Can catch and throw a ball
- Can ride a tricycle
- Confident climbers
- Fine motor skills - Can build block towers, Can do basic cutting with scissors, A tripod pencil grip is established(+/- 5 years old)
Things you can do...
Visit your local playground: Playgrounds are all different and require different skills, you can practice different skills such as climbing which is great to develop trunk and upper arm strength; going up and down stairs, teaching your child how to swing.
Play games that include lots of gross motor skills like running; hopping; jumping; skipping; galloping (Simon says; Follow the leader).
Use the sidewalk; jumping over the cracks, running or creating artwork with sidewalk chalk.
Use the fence to draw and create artwork with sidewalk chalk – working on a vertical surface helps to develop strength in the arms. Chalk is a great tool to practice fine motor skills. Use a spray bottle to spray the chalk off the fence – great to strengthen the fingers/hands. Draw; practice letters and numbers.
Be outdoors or indoors and be physically active – build an obstacle course: you can set up different stations that focus on jumping, climbing and crawling. Pretend to be different animals (hop like a bunny, jump like a frog, walk like a bear), dancing (Hokey Pokey or Chicken Dance,
Play ball: Using both small and large balls, you and your child can focus on developing and improving throwing, catching and kicking skills.
Focus on the core and shoulders: Many kids have decreased core stability or weak shoulder muscles. Activities that help to strengthen both areas include wheelbarrow walks, crab walks, bear walks and push-ups. Lots of time of the tummy helps to develop core strength – lie on your tummy to watch tv; read; colour; eat snacks; play games.
Ride a bike; skip with a rope
Get involved in tasks at home that involve heavy work and motor skills:
"Heavy work” helps children to focus and remain calm, and helps ease sensory needs. Many household chores and activities involve heavy work.
Heavy work is an activity that requires using your joints/muscles and puts pressure on your joints/muscles as you move, for example pushing furniture; carrying bags of groceries; carrying laundry.
Do the dusting with an old sock on your hand; water plants with a watering can/bucket; help pack way toys using BBQ tongs (dirty laundry; puzzle/games/lego blocks); sweeping/vacuuming; help with the washing; aim and throw balls of socks into the washing basket; push/pull and move the laundry basket.
Try the multi-sport program READY STEADY GO KIDS, www.readysteadygokids.com.au