Motor skill difficulties in children
Here is a brief document which will help you accompany children with motor skill delays, whether the delays are minimal or of greater importance. Of course, the opinion of a specialist in the matter and his instructions prevail. All the interventions included in this document are related to physical and motor development and can only be beneficial to the evolution of any child's development. This text was conceived to help you stimulate children with simple motor delays. They can however easily be adapted to children with major handicaps.
A little theory...
Every child develops at his own pace. Some children may require a longer period of time to acquire certain notions. This is true for all developmental aspects. It is important that we pay attention to observable signs in children while refraining from unnecessarily worrying parents with diagnostics. Your observations and knowledge of child development may be useful for parents.
Parents whose children present motor delays need support, help, tricks, etc. Motor development is easily perceived. For this reason, people can be quick to judge or make comparisons. Do not hesitate to reassure parents and direct them towards specialists if needed.
When in doubt, do not hesitate to communicate with a rehabilitation centre. They will be able to provide advice, tricks and documentation. Certain centres can even lend you various tools which can help children.
The practical side...
To make this a win-win situation for everyone involved, you must respect children, plan activities suited to their level, and respect their capacities for movement. Beware of overprotection! It is suggested that you intervene as normally as possible while making certain adjustments to fulfill children's specific needs.
Tips and tricks for area setup...
- Designate an area for gross motor skills. In this area children may run, jump, and climb without restrictions. For children to exercise their motor skills, they must be able to practice regularly and safely. Outdoor, the possibilities are endless but indoors, this activity can be cause for concern. Children's movements are limited due to the size of the space and furniture of all kinds.
- It can be beneficial to evaluate the available space and possibly remove a few activity corners for a certain period of time. This will give you additional space you can transform into motor skill areas.
- Material which may be included in your motor skills area: various sizes of cushions, mattresses, beach balls, foam tubes (used in swimming pools), hoola hoops, jumping ball, textured ball, bean bag toss game, bowling game, jumping rope, hopscotch, tunnels, rolling objects, etc.
- It is interesting for children to watch their body in motion in a large mirror.
- Allow children access, at all times, to material which develops gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Material you can make...
- Bowling game: Collect various sizes of plastic bottles (water or soda bottles). Fill them with coloured water. Align the bottles (try different ways) and, with balls, children try to make them fall down.
- Stilts: Tie rope to either side of metal cans. Make several.
- Hopscotch: Use large foam puzzle pieces to create a hopscotch game. You can try a variety of patterns (example: three single squares, one double...). Have children throw a small ball on one of the pieces. They must jump from one piece to the other and avoid touching the piece the ball landed on.
- Indoor water games: Fill a few plastic containers with water. Make sure they are large enough and that you have a sufficient number of containers for children to play comfortably. Place the containers on large towels, on the floor. Provide material children can use to pour, fill, and empty.
- For a drawing activity, provide several different sizes of crayons: chalk, wooden pencils, large markers, large waxed crayons... This will encourage fine motor skills.
- Suggest an arts & crafts activity involving tearing and crumpling tissue paper to make a collage.
- Let children manipulate different textures of modeling dough (hard, soft).
- Sing songs involving gestures and rhymes which involve movement such as Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
- Create obstacle courses which promote the development of gross motor skills. Place different objects around the daycare such as: tunnels, hoola hoops, chairs, etc. To help children visualize the path they must follow, lay jumping ropes on the floor from one station to the next.
- Plan periods where children can move their bodies through dance. Suggestions: dancing with long ribbons, dancing and then standing still as a statue when the music stops, dancing to the sound of music made with your own musical instruments, dancing and moving a specific body part, etc.
- To help children gain awareness of their body, try these two relaxation activities:
a) Children find a partner and take turns massaging each other using objects with different textures (feather, textured ball, feather duster...). Children can also do this activity alone. Dollar stores have several great finds which are perfect for this activity.
b) Transform yourselves into Mr. or Mrs. Jell-O. Have children lie on their mattress and stiffen their body. When you say, "Mr. or Mrs. Jell-O" children make their body limp.
- Play Twister. (Open game - Twister). Print and glue the large illustrations to the floor (Mac Tac) in a 4 sq. ft. area. The leader of the game turns over an illustration and a card representing a body part. He then gives the instructions to the group like in the traditional Twister game: "Place one foot on the big red heart, place one hand on the blue heart," for example. Variation for younger children: use the illustrations to decorate the daycare or for a color recognition activity. For example, you may ask them to point to the blue heart. For infants, place the illustrations on the floor, they will love looking at them.
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