Since we learned about the importance of fine motor skills (that it affects learning skills having to do with hygiene, academic performance, how they relate to peers, and more) in another blog post, let's look at what other types of development are involved in fine motor development, including mid-line crossing, ocular motor control, and hand-eye coordination. Read on to learn the basics of each.
According to Kid's Sense "the body's mid-line is an imaginary line down the center of the body that divides the body into left and right. Crossing the body's mid-line is the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs. This allows children to cross over their body to perform a task on the opposite side of their body (e.g. being able to draw a horizontal line across a page without having to switch hands in the middle, sitting cross-legged on the floor or being able to insert puzzle pieces using the dominant right hand when the puzzle is placed on the left hand side of the body)."
Here are some activities to help facilitate mid-line crossing:
- Craft: Threading beads, cutting and pasting, folding paper.
- Finger Puppets: Placing finger puppets on one hand and encouraging the child to remove the puppets with the opposite hand.
- Blocks and Percussion: Getting the child to bang blocks or percussion instruments together in their mid-line.
Ocular motor control
The three basic types of eye movements that make up ocular motor control according to Lowcountry Therapy are:
- Fixations: ability to hold eyes steady without moving off target
- Saccades: the ability of our eyes to make accurate jumps as we change targets
- Pursuits: the ability of our eyes to follow a moving targets
Imagine learning to type but having a hard time switching between looking at the screen and the keyboard. If your child seems be having trouble with saccades or other eye movements try practicing these activities:
- Use a flashlight against the ceiling. Have the child lie on his or her back or tummy and visually follow the moving light from left to right, top to bottom, and diagonally.
- Find hidden pictures in books or magazines like Highlights for Children.
- Practice maze activities.
Visual motor skills are what connect what you see with your body's movements. They make it so we can take a letter or pattern that we see and recreate it with our own pencil and paper. Understanding where our bodies are in space and relating that to what we are seeing may not fully develop until between 6 and 9 years of age, but a child can work on it through activities like this:
- Throw bean bags/ Koosh® balls into a hula-hoop placed flat on the floor. Gradually increase the distance.
- Play throw and catch with a ball. Start with a large ball and work toward a smaller ball. (Koosh® balls are easier to catch than a tennis ball.)
- Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball. (You can purchase these games or make your own with soda bottles and a small ball.)
- Play "Hit the Balloon" with a medium-sized balloon.
As you pay attention to mid-line crossing, ocular motor control, and hand-eye coordination during your child's early years, you ensure success in not only the fine motor domain, but in independence, self-esteem, and relationships with others later on.