As a parent, you might be in too much of a hurry if:
You talk on the phone when your child tells you about their day;
Your kids eat most meals in the car;
You dress your child when she can dress herself – buttoning, zipping, finding her coat, etc;
Your child constantly hears, "Are you ready?" or "Hurry up!";
Your child never completes a project at play time;
You don’t have time to read to your child or let him/her read to you; and
You don’t have enough time to talk with and listen to him/her.
Why does this matter? All of these activities help your child develop fine motor skills critical for reading and writing.
“In order for a child to develop holistically, fine motor skills are very important,” says Lu Lewis, early childhood educator. “When you slow down and allow your child to do the activities listed above, you allow him to learn eye-hand coordination. His hands and eyes learn to work together. For example, when you give a child something to cut out, their eyes see what you want them to cut and their hands cut what their eyes see.”
Even simple things like a baby grasping for an object is a fine motor skill.
When a parent always gives the rattle to the baby, it robs them of an opportunity to learn this skill.
“A mom once asked me if it was bad if she didn’t play with her child all the time,” Lewis says. “In today’s society, I think many people believe they are not being good parents if they are not always entertaining their child. The truth is your child needs to play for a period of time with an object in order to complete a play cycle and concentrate to the point that it is etched into their long-term memory. Many educators see children in their classroom who are always dependent on an adult to complete a project for them because they have never completed a project by themselves.”
Believe it or not, helping your child develop fine motor skills is not complicated.
Just including your child in your day can help develop these skills. Folding laundry, talking with your child as you cook, letting him walk with you to the mailbox and allowing him to open the mailbox and grab the mail, asking him to get a pan or utensil for you, and allowing him to play in the tub with toys are all activities that help to naturally develop these necessary skills.
“Most parents I work with really want their child to do well,” Lewis says. “Sometimes parents do things they believe are helping their child when they are actually hindering their development. The number one thing I would tell parents is to slow down, relax and let your child truly experience life.”
In addition to including your child in your daily activities, Lewis encourages parents to:
Walk with your child down the street and count bricks or pick dandelions.
Encourage them to sit at the kitchen table while you fix dinner and string beads or sort blocks by color instead of watching television or playing on the computer.
Incorporate time for your child to play every day.
“Learning is a human endeavor,” Lewis says. “It takes place from one human to another and it requires your most precious commodity, time.”