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Activities you can do at Home to Help your Young Child’s Development

As a mum of two who’s a qualified teacher/SENCO, I’m a big believer in creating learning opportunities through play at school and at home. I even set up my own site to share ideas with parents and teachers of children with Special Educational Needs, The SEN Resources Blog, but what activities can you do at home and what skills can you help develop?

As parents, you’re often the experts in your child’s needs, likes and dislikes. If your child has special educational needs you may even have had discussions with your child’s occupational therapists/teachers/educational psychologists etc and have areas you know your child needs extra support with. Here are some examples of ideas to support Fine Motor and Gross Motor Skills*

Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor activities build the tiny muscles in the fingers and hands that are necessary for tasks such as learning to write, un-doing zips and buttons and using a knife and fork.
There are lots of activities you can do with your children to help develop this skill, including:

Play dough/ Similar: Squishing, moulding, squeezing, rolling and cutting all help build those tiny muscles! The possibilities are endless, you can use play dough, kinetic sand, play foam or even bake biscuits and use the biscuit dough shaping as a fine motor opportunity.

Sorting Activities: Best with small objects (as long as they won’t  pose a choking hazard to your child) such as pom poms, buttons, marbles, rice, stones etc. Children can use their fingers or tweezers/scoops/spoons to sort the different objects.

Painting: This could be with paints or even water outside on concrete slabs! Be creative. They don’t even have to use a paint brush they could use their fingers, cotton buds, feathers or cut up potatoes for potato printing.

Beading/Threading: Either with bought beads or home made versions (like pasta), the actions of putting beads on the string and pulling the string through really helps develop fine motor skills.

Weaving/Sewing: This could be using plastic needles and thread or weaving with strips of paper/pipe cleaners/ribbon.

Building: Playing with building blocks or alternatives such as Duplo, Lego, Mega Blocks.

Gross Motor
Unlike, Fine Motor Skill activities, which require the small muscles in the hands and fingers, Gross Motor Skill activities use the larger, core stabilising muscles. They are just as important as fine motor skills. In fact, children will often find sitting at a desk practicing fine motor skills easier if they have developed their gross motor skills- as their back and shoulder muscles enable them to sit in an upright posture at a desk for periods of time.

Gross motor skills enable us to stand, go up the stairs, to climb on and off the toilet, to sit at a school desk for a period of time, to carry things, throw things and catch. They are therefore, incredibly vital.

How can you develop a child’s gross motor skills?

There are so many, fun and engaging ways to help children develop their Gross Motor Skills*

  • Going to the Park (climbing the steps to the slide etc),
  • Soft play centres,
  • Trampolines/bouncy castles,
  • Bike,
  • Scooter,
  • Swimming,
  • Obstacle courses,
  • Standing/walking on uneven surfaces like a wobble board,
  • Dancing to action songs,
  • Classic playground games: Hopscotch, Simon Says, What’s the Time Mr Wolf etc.

If you’re interested in finding out more details about any of these activities, or keen to discover more ideas, including tips on areas such as sensory play please visit The SEN Resources blog
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*Please note it is your responsibility to ensure a child’s health & safety when deciding to try out any of these activities. If you have any concerns about a child’s development- seek medical/professional advice- this article does not replace this type of advice.

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The author

Georgina runs, a site for parents and teachers of children with Special Educational Needs. The site provides advice, learning activities and recommended children’s books, learning resources and toys. Her site is now read by thousands each week and has won many awards including being chosen by Theo Paphitis (from Dragon’s Den) for his SBS award. Over the last year Georgina has been featured in the Guardian, Mumsnet and SEN Magazine. She’s also been interviewed by Sue Atkins, parenting expert from ITV’s This Morning, as part of her Podcast.

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