Teachers at Kids Island Nursery and Cocoon Nursery in Dubai, have noticed some preschoolers having difficulties using their fingers and hands to do basic activities such as tie their shoes, zip their school bags or open lunch boxes, in recent years.
One of the main reasons identified by teachers is that preschoolers are spending more and more time in front of the television, tablets, mobiles or computers, instead of using their fingers to play and make things. It is important for preschoolers to develop their motor skills involving the movement of the fingers and hands with strength and dexterity, this is crucial in the early childhood years.
Fine motor skills are important and children need to develop them in order to do everyday activities such as pouring themselves some milk, buttoning their clothes, tying shoelaces or write and draw.
Some of the methods used by teachers at nurseries in Dubai to help young children develop fine motor skills in the classroom are as follows:
- Play-Doh, Clay and Salt dough – Malleable materials such as clay or play-doh gives children the opportunity to use their hands and make models. They should be encouraged to squeeze, pound, roll and cut out shapes using cookies cutters. This activity can also be encouraged at home by using salt dough, where children can model the material and use paint to decorate it too.
- Actions – Teach children nursery rhymes and songs that include actions with their fingers and hands such as itsy bitsy spider and the wheels on the bus. These activities encourage children's motor, language and cognitive skills.
- Jigsaws and puzzles – Provide children with a variety of simple jigsaw and puzzles with large knobs, small knobs, large knobless pieces, small knobless pieces, large pieces and small pieces, table puzzles and floor puzzles, in order to encourage fine motor development.
- Drawing and colouring – Drawing and colouring are great activities to encourage a preschoolers fine motor skills. Most curriculums in Early Years Education in Dubai, lets children explore Art by letting them tear tissue, painting with different size brushes, pasting an array of collage materials and paper folding.
- Self-help skills – Teachers should include activities that help children practice basic self-care skills such as tying, buttoning, snapping and zipping. Encourage children to attempt to dress themselves for outdoor play, gym time, nap time and any other time.
- Blocks – Children can be encouraged to use their fine motor skills with blocks, where they actively use their skills to build a tower with blocks, construct a structure with Lego® or Duplo® blocks.
- Games – Encourage children to make bead stringing, placing pegs in boards, parquetry blocks as well as board games such as Chutes & Ladders and Lotto which enhances and develops their motor skills.
Having enough opportunities for children to develop their motor skills in a classroom environment is a priority.