Motor skills refer to your child's ability to move and use their bodies to participate in everyday activities. It includes everything from walking to using their hands to hold a crayon and draw. Motor skills are essential for a child’s growth and development, as they enable them to interact with their environment and take care of themselves. These skills grow gradually over time, but there are ways you can help strengthen, practice, and reinforce your 3-year-old’s progressing motor development.
- Provide opportunities for physical activity - Children need to engage in physical activity to develop their motor skills. Encourage your child to play outside, run around, climb, jump, and engage in other physical activities. Indoor activities such as dancing, playing with balls or balloons, and using play equipment such as a trampoline (with supervision!) can also be great for strengthening these skills.
- Provide toys that encourage movement - Toys that require your child to move and manipulate objects can help strengthen their fine motor skills. Examples include building blocks, puzzles, and pegboards. These toys require your child to grasp and manipulate objects, improve their hand-eye coordination, and practice dexterity.
- Encourage pretend play - Pretend play allows children to use their imagination while also exercising their motor skills. Encourage your child to engage in pretend play activities such as cooking, cleaning, and dress-up, which require them to use their hands and fingers in different ways.
- Practice drawing and coloring - Drawing and coloring are excellent activities that exercise the little muscles in your child's hands. Encourage them to hold the pencil or crayon correctly and draw or color within the lines.
- Practice cutting with scissors - Cutting with scissors is another activity that can help improve your child’s fine motor skills. Start with simple cutting activities, such as cutting paper into strips, and progress to more complicated activities, such as cutting out shapes. Be sure to use child safe scissors and maintain proper supervision!
- Play with playdough - Playing with playdough can help strengthen your child’s hand muscles and improve their dexterity. Encourage your child to roll, squeeze, and shape the playdough in different ways.
- Play games that require hand-eye coordination- Games that require your child to use their hands and eyes in coordination can help improve their motor skills. Examples include throwing and catching a ball, hitting a piñata, and playing with a balloon!
- Encourage self-care activities - Activities such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, and eating with utensils require your child to use their hands and fingers in different ways. Encourage your child to perform these activities independently to not only strengthen their fine motor skills, but also to encourage self-reliance!
- Offer praise and encouragement - As with anything your child is trying to learn, always positively reinforce your little one in a way that will make them eager to keep practicing. Children thrive on praise and encouragement so when they draw that pretty picture or throw the ball as far as they can, be sure to let them know how proud you are of their efforts!