Between birth and six years old, every child will be exposed to the foundation required to help develop essential fine motor skills needed in life. While they will naturally pick up these skills, there are some games, activities and toys that you can expose them to, to help the process along.
The first 12 months will be a busy one, as your child will be seeing everything for the first time. Driven by their sense of touch and sight, they will learn a variety of skills that they’ll use to discover and interpret their world. At this age, obtaining an object would be the main goal, so you should go for activities and games that assist with hand-eye coordination. Remember to provide positive vocal support (soft, happy sounds that offer positive encouragement) and smile. Babies take cues from their parents and will register good and bad from voice and facial expression.
One Year Old
After familiarising themselves with the concept of noticing an object and going to pick it up, the fine motor skills in your one year old would then have developed to allow for greater manipulation of any objects they come across. As they come into contact with more and more objects, they will start to identify them based on their size, shape and weight, so you would want to expose them to more hands-on activities and games at this stage.
Two & Three Years
At this age, your child will most probably already be capable of picking up toys and throwing them around. So, you would want to start teaching them that there are specific places for different objects and that they should be put back in the same place they were taken from. As their fine motor skills will be in the moderate range at this point, some activities you can get them to do include cutting shapes using child-safe scissors, buttoning their clothes and putting on/taking off their own socks and shoes. It is also at this stage where your child will start showing preference as to which hand would be their dominant one.
Originally published in “Hold It!”, in Singapore’s Child May 2011