April 1, 2017 Carol Miller

The Role of Play and Developing Fine Motor Skills

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With the advent and rapid adoption of the iPad and overall tablet technology, kids are not developing fine motor skills. Today, many arrive at school without enough hand strength and coordination to use scissors or hold a pencil correctly. In fact, only about half can hold a pencil correctly, versus the fisted approach they should have grown out of by age 3.

Many children arrive at school without enough hand strength and coordination to use scissors or hold a pencil correctly.

An increasing number of children are showing up for kindergarten without the fine motor skills needed to grip a marker, hold their paper still while coloring or cut and glue shapes. soap bubble 439103 1920 300x200 - The Role of Play and Developing Fine Motor Skills

The New York Times reported in February that public schools in New York City saw a 30 percent increase in the number of students referred to occupational therapy, with the number jumping 20 percent in three years in Chicago and 30 percent over five years in Los Angeles.

As a result, many teachers are being forced to make constant corrections of technique that should have been learned through play at earlier ages. This takes valuable time from today’s fast-paced academic programs, while individual sessions to build or strengthen skills require students to miss class and cost money.

The years between birth and 3 are instrumental in core muscle development, and parents need to incorporate a mix of gross and fine motor skills into at-home play.

child 686720 1280 300x211 - The Role of Play and Developing Fine Motor SkillsThe years between birth and 3 are instrumental in core muscle development, and parents need to incorporate a mix of gross and fine motor skills into at-home play.

Concerns about physical readiness for school are growing locally and nationally.

Today’s children also spend less time outside, where they might have more opportunities to explore how their bodies move through space, learn to balance and figure how to handle toys and tools about one another.

Many parents are afraid to let their children engage in physical play or cut with scissors. Others have traded in the messiness of hands-on play dough for a sterile “educational” tablet. sport 858206 1920 300x201 - The Role of Play and Developing Fine Motor Skills

Rather than sit and color the way they used to do, our kids are part of the burst of technology. It’s amazing to see a kid who can swipe an iPad with reckless abandonment, but you put a pair of scissors in their hand, and they don’t know what to do.

As parents, we all know that there is real pressure to get our kids involved in organized activities at younger and younger ages. However, in doing so, they are given less and less time in free, active play in the backyard.

Spend some time coloring and teaching your child how to stay within the lines, manipulating play dough or catching bubbles; have them draw you or grandma a picture. Cut paper dolls and similar, this is how a child develops fine motor skills. color 445324 1920 300x199 - The Role of Play and Developing Fine Motor Skills

Kids need to manipulate their environments to understand spatial concepts.

Children learn not by being told, but by doing. Play is a fundamental right of childhood that parents cannot afford to short change.

Play is where kids develop gross and fine motor skills, creative thought an aspect of problem-solving; both have their roots in play. Play enhances kids ability to engage successfully in new situations.

Play is a fundamental right of childhood that parents cannot afford to short change.

Running and playing a simple game of tag or similar develops gross motor skills. Kids need to be able to sit for extended lengths of time in school; this takes core muscle groups being established.

Once your child is of school age, continue to work with them on both fine and gross motor skills – parents shouldn’t stop providing hands-on opportunities once their kids are school age.

Not only does this continue to build skills but allows for family bonding that once this time is gone, live changes forever.

So take the time to establish a deep bond through play and active games with your child. Both of you will be thankful later.

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