Families applying to independent schools often ask how they may prepare their children for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. While each school may have different admission criteria, one area that many schools evaluate is a child’s fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles of the hands. These muscles are needed to button a shirt, write with a pencil, or use a pair of scissors. Combining fine motor skills with hand-eye coordination allows children to experience a whole new level of play and learning, and strengthens their abilities in both areas.
ParentsⓇ magazine explains that fine motor skills “lay the foundation for academic learning in later years. In order to learn to write or draw, for example, a child's hand must be strong and coordinated enough to hold a pencil steady for a long period of time; in order to participate in school sports, games, and projects, dexterity and coordination must be up to par.”
Fine motor skills also give children the ability to be more independent, which is another benchmark in their school readiness. Believe it or not, many daily activities, such as zipping, buttoning, squeezing toothpaste from the tube onto the toothbrush, combing hair, and using kitchen utensils are all helping to develop these skills.
Below are some additional activities you can do at home to further development:
- Complete puzzles with five or more pieces
- Build a tower with at least 10 blocks using wooden blocks or Keva planks
- Cut out simple shapes
- Trace using stencils
- Paste and glue objects on paper
- String beads
- Peel and pull painter’s tape or washi tape
- Play with Play-Doh using a rolling pin to flatten or scissors to cut
- Use scissors to cut cereal boxes, straws, and newspaper
- Paint with Q-tipsⓇ
- Use tweezers to put pom poms in an ice cube tray
- Make stamp art with stamps and ink pads
- Put coins in a piggy bank
- Lace cards like you would a shoe
- Finger paint and then progress to brushes
- Push golf tees into a styrofoam block
- Hole punch through paper
- Peel and stick window clings
Here are some additional resources:
- Perler™ beads
- Melissa and DougⓇ Scissor Skills and Tape Activity Books Set
- ALEXⓇ Toys Little Hands Peg and Layer Jungle
- Learning ResourcesⓇ Jumbo Tweezers
- LakeshoreⓇ Find the Letter Activity Center
- SkoolzyⓇ Rainbow Counting Bears with Matching Sorting Cups, Bear Counters
The most important thing you can do to prepare your child for pre-kindergarten or kindergarten is to create fun, engaging activities that will instill a love of learning. The early years of school should be filled with laughter and the joy of discovery. Providing children with ample opportunities to improve their fine motor skills now will encourage them to be creative and expressive, and build a solid foundation for their future.