The development of sound fine and gross motor skills is crucial in early childhood. The worrying thing is that as the use of electronic devices increases, so do the detrimental effects on the development of these essential skills.
Although playing a game on an iPad may keep children occupied, extensive ‘screen swiping’ can compromise their school readiness, their academic skills, their social interactions and their self-esteem.
In a recent ABC news article, West Australian Education Minister Peter Collier was quoted as saying that an increasing number of children were starting pre-primary school without some of the basic skills and he urged parents to start the education process at home. Mr. Collier further states that parents simply were not putting in the time with their children that they used to, and that this was being reflected in on-entry testing results. A local pre-primary teacher also voiced her concern that many parents were not aware of how important the early years were in a child's development.
So how important is to fine-tune your child’s motor skills before school?
Let’s first look at what these motor skills include:
- Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles of the hands (for example cutting with scissors, use of a pencil, doing up buttons, tying shoelaces, using cutlery, cleaning teeth etc) with studies showing that there is a strong link between these skills and children’s educational development.
- Gross motor skills involve movement of the large muscles in the arms, legs and body (for example walking , running, jumping, skipping, throwing, kicking a ball, carrying a school bag and climbing).
What are some of the positive outcomes of well-developed motor skills?
- Experts agree that children who are able to manage the physical demands of school and who have well-developed motor skills are likely to learn more easily and to be more self-confident. Also, many playground activities and interactions between children (even from a very early age) involve physical play, so those who have well-developed motor skills are likely to be better and more successful at these games than children with less adequate abilities.
- Children can participate in classroom activities that require them to control their body (for example sitting still)
- They need strong gross motor skills to engage successfully in physical activities and games
- Well-developed motor skills support visual perception, which helps with strong literacy skills.
- Motor skills are essential for a child to become independent, as they will be able to open doors, tie shoelaces etc.
- Fine motor skills create opportunities for a children to explore, learn and express themselves creatively
- Without strong motor skills, children can become tired more easily and this lack of endurance can negatively affect their ability to focus, concentrate and engage while at school.
Parents, family and guardians can play a huge role in the sound development of the aforementioned skills so children hit the ground running when they start early education.
Planning fun activities that include stretching and squeezing play-dough, making pasta necklaces, squeezing sponges, pouring water into cups, cutting shapes, finger-painting, skipping, hopping and balancing will inevitably help the development of these skills. Providing a wide range of materials and opportunities for play and companionship can also play an important role in fine-tuning motor skills
At Nido Early School, which has centres located in Perth and Melbourne, children are encouraged to self-guide the learning process and to develop their fine and gross motor skills through qualitative indoor and outdoor play and a host of creatively-charged activities. A nurturing, co-learning curriculum is facilitated by a network of industry best educators and degree-qualified teachers to stimulate a lifelong love of learning and sound development.
For more information on Nido Early School, please visit nidoearlyschool.com.au.