Exercises for Developing Fine Motor Skills

My son is eight years old and having trouble with his fine motor skills. He has started cursive writing and the problem is more evident than ever. Do you have any suggestions on things we could do to try and improve these skills?

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There are numerous simple activities that you can do with your son to help him develop his fine motor skills. You may already have some of these things in your home, so this isn't necessarily an expensive endeavor.

Anything that requires manipulation can be used to develop fine motor control. Clay and play dough are two excellent examples. Allow your son to play with it, squish it through his fingers, roll it and create things with it. The pinching, pulling, squeezing and rolling motions will help to strengthen your son's muscles while he enjoys these fun activities. Working with Legos, K'Nex and similar types of building toys can also be beneficial. Drawing tools can also help develop fine motor control. Etch-A-Sketch, Magna Doodle and chalk are easy to use and may help your son build confidence in his penmanship. Dot-to-dot activities are great too and can be found in the activity book section of bookstores, toy stores and discount stores.

There are some other activities that your child can do that may assist his development. For example, give him a container of pennies and have him insert them into a coin bank. The action of getting the penny between his fingers and then releasing it into a small slot is simple, yet effective. Have him take a penny out of a small container and continue to hold it in that dominant hand while using that same hand to pick up the next penny. Try giving him a bolt and nut pair. He can twist the nut onto the bolt until it will no longer move and then untwist it until it comes back off.

It might be a good idea to invest in some tools for school use. You can purchase special pencil grippers from office supply or discount stores that can give your son a more comfortable grip on his pencil. Using broader implements (pencils, colored pencils, markers, etc.) may again contribute to his comfort level. Ask the teacher for more ideas that may help your son feel more comfortable and confident at school.

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