Gross and Fine Motor
Why gross motor skills are important
Gross motor skills are the skills that children develop using their whole body. You can see this from a baby’s earliest efforts to move and travel, to young children coordinating whole body movements. By using their whole bodies children become increasingly confident, agile and flexible.
All children need to be confident in their gross motor skills and movements. For some children this confidence will come in smaller steps and take longer to achieve. Be patient, giving them time and space, and encouraging words. Take expert advice for children with physical and mobility additional needs. This may increase children’s development of muscular strength, ability to take well-intentioned, safe risks and become increasingly well-coordinated.
Gross motor skills affect well-being and give children opportunities to socialise in play. Confidence and coordination in gross motor skills are essential for children in developing their fine motor skills.
Why fine motor skills are important
Fine motor skills involve small muscles working with the brain and nervous system to control movements in areas such as the hands, fingers, lips, tongue and eyes. Developing fine motor skills helps children do things like eating, writing, manipulating objects and getting dressed.
A baby uses their fingers and thumbs to pick things up. They will also feel and taste objects with their mouth and lips. An older child will use their fine motor skills for actions like pulling up a zip or using scissors to cut up paper. These important skills will contribute to a child’s development and independence across all areas of learning.
Research shows that the development of fine motor skills depends on the development of gross motor skills and that a joined-up approach to physical development is important. Young children need many opportunities to develop fine motor skills alongside gross motor skills so they can become confident to explore the world around them.
Mark making is an important experience for children because over time they can attribute meaning to their marks. Combined with a child’s developing dexterity, these marks become refined and deliberate, until the point at which the young child labels their marks, either as pictures or writing.