Fine and Gross motor skills are an essential part of infant development and play a huge role in laying a healthy foundation for learning and development in children’s early years. This development begins from the day children are born and there are many reasons as to why this development is so vital.
Gross Motor Development
When looking at gross motor development it is important to understand what this means. Gross motor skills refer to the movements related to the large (core stabilizing) muscle groups in our body, like our legs, arms and torso. The development of these skills allows us to perform everyday actions such as running, walking, sitting e.t.c. but this is not the only reason why developing these skills is so important.
Firstly, building on these skills helps children to gain confidence in their bodies as well as help them to develop a sense of self-esteem. This is not only important in their early years but helps build the foundation for confidence and self-esteem as they grow into adults too.
If a child has slower developed gross motor skills, they may not feel confident enough to participate in the more physical activities which in turn means they will miss out on important social development that is rooted in physical activity with their peers.
Healthy motor development also encourages healthy brain development for children in their early years. Being mobile and interacting with the environment around them aids children in their early years to form important neural connections which is vital in the early years as this is when the most important brain development occurs.
Fine Motor Development
Of equal importance is the healthy development of fine motor skills, which refers to the smaller muscles that control our hands fingers and thumbs. These skills are more challenging to acquire and develop alongside the development of gross motor skills. There are several reasons why the healthy development of fine motor skills is so important, firstly it gives us the ability to control and manipulate objects in our environment, without the ability to do this we cant perform even the simplest of tasks like zipping a jacket, turning a page, holding a pen or even feeding ourselves.
Through the development of these skills children learn the movements involved with holding a pencil and making marks with that pencil, this is vital for pre-writing skills.
These skills are also related to hand eye coordination, this cognitive function is vital for everyday movements like reaching for something, drinking from a cup, putting on shoes e.t.c. By strengthening and practicing fine motor skills children can strengthen their hand eye coordination.
Development of fine motor skills also fosters independence for children in their early years, as they learn these skills, they can begin to try things for themselves like feeding themselves, dressing themselves, brushing their teeth e.t.c. This will help children to develop confidence and self esteem which as mentioned above is vital for ensuring participation in the challenging environments they will encounter as they grow.