Author: Gool Bugwadia
The early childhood years can be the most exciting years for your child’s development. Parents being closest to their children during this critical period, can primarily be instrumental in developing their child’s motor skills through play. Parents who exercise gentle guidance through a balanced round of activities, are better able to develop their child’s motor skills effectively.
How true it is that “the way a twig is bent, the tree is inclined!”
Early childhood experts believe that by the age of five years, the child’s intelligence quotient is more or less established and the foundations of human intelligence firmly laid. They also believe that play is the most natural and effective way a child learns to develop his/her fine and gross motor skills. To a child play is work; something he/she enjoys and pursues with enthusiasm.
Here are some effective guidelines to help parents develop their child’s motor skills through play:
1 ~ Create an enriched environment
It is important for parents to create a safe, pleasant and enriched environment for their child so that he/she can have a wide range of fulfilling learning experiences. This brand of primary learning, born out of a child’s sense of curiosity and purpose, can have a direct bearing on your child’s all-round growth. Creating an environment wherein children can play, explore and learn freely without hampering supervision is the key. However, keep in mind that even in the same environment, skills that may come easily to one child may be difficult for another; hence, avoid comparisons in the interest of your child.
2 ~Provide play materials
Providing age-appropriate play materials like building blocks for toddlers, can teach the child the concept of order as he/she learns to place them from the biggest to the smallest. By stringing beads, a child can learn to count and by manipulating shapes, your child learns the concept of matching while placing each one in the right slot. All these play activities not only have scope for learning, but can simultaneously develop your child’s fine motor skills as he/she exercises small muscles to grasp various objects with his/her hands. It has been rightly ascertained by psychologists, “ the hands are the instrument of the brain.”
3 ~ Promote hand/finger coordination
It is important for your child to imbibe the skill of hand and finger coordination. You can help your child in the right direction by teaching him/her life skills like buttoning the shirt, tying shoe laces, opening and shutting snaps, cutting paper, tracing objects, coloring with crayons and picking up small objects with the use of the ‘pincer grip.’ It has been found that even simple things like opening and shutting lids of plastic bottles and wooden boxes or sorting and classifying objects, playing finger games or just scribbling has the potential of developing your child’s fine motor skills.
4 ~ Encourage physical activities
Encouraging physical activities like running, stretching, jumping, skipping, hopping, pushing, pulling and lifting things can develop your child’s gross motor skills. Ensure a safe area outdoors like in your backyard, a nearby park or a schoolyard to enable your child to play freely. These outdoor activities centered on play, helps to nurture optimal physical growth and strengthen bones and muscles- – - thereby developing your child’s large motor skills.
Appropriate stimulation from parents is the key to the development of your child’s motor skills through play. A child who has been fortunate to receive some of the finest opportunities for his all-round development will ultimately grow up to be a well-grounded mature adult.
The real pleasure of learning comes with the child. Parents can only reinforce this pleasure by allowing their child to develop his potential to the fullest extent. The process of developing your child’s motor skills through play can indeed be one of the most rewarding experiences of parenting.
Source: Learning through Play by Jean Marzollo & Janice Lloyd