‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Heather Greutman

Parenting Reads!

Book Review Basics of Fine Motor Skills by Heather Greutman, a parenting good read book

“Research suggests that fine motor skills are so important that they are connected to how a child learns to read, complete math problems, and other higher-level cognitive thinking”, an excerpt from the book ‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Occupational Therapist (OT) Heather Greutman is a self-help resource (in Education & Teaching category) for parents, teachers & therapists. It is a thin book with small chapters, and it has only 90 pages, but this book gives a plethora of information on the subject- fine motor skills.

It is a go-to resource for understanding fine motor skills in-depth, to keep up with the developmental milestones on fine motor skills, for ideas on creative games, tools and fun activities. As a parent, we literally run out of ideas or resources, because parenting journey can be overwhelming at times. As mentioned above, it has easy to read small chapters but has quite a few technical jargons in the chapters. So, read mindfully at one go (if possible) and keep a tab on the jargons, because some of the terms (like proprioception, in-hand manipulation etc.) have been mentioned before but explained in the later chapters. Also, a few chapters from this book, you’d want to refer time and again for your little ones (ages: new-born through 6+).

A little insight on a few chapters goes like this…

Chapter-6 ‘Fine Motor Development Red Flags’ was overly technical for me. Though I enjoy reading technical stuff more, but I was only gliding through this chapter. Chapter-8 mentions a list of things/tools/items to keep handy or arrange beforehand to carry out the fine motor skills activities at home. So to say, one-time preparation for the rest of the fine motor development journey with your little learner. This 2-page chapter also suggests game ideas. Chapter-9 outlines list of activities by skills such as gross motor skills, visual motor skills, handwriting and pre-writing skills. It begins with warm up activities for shoulders and fingers to prepare a child for fine motor activities and handwriting skills which is interesting, alike the warm-up exercises we grown-ups follow to flex or prep up our body before the main exercise regime.  Since I have the eBook version of this book so, chapters 8 & 9, I have taken the print outs to refer regularly. ‘Activities Ideas by Age’ chapter-10 & ‘Developmental Milestones’ chapter-5, I revisit on a timely manner for age group activities and milestones’ references, respectively. So, this time around to write my reviews of this book, I have checked/unchecked a few fine motor activity ideas listed under Ages 3-6 years for my son, Pratham.

The interesting part of this book was learning about three more senses, beyond the typical 5 senses we all know. Discovering all the 8 sensory systems was certainly helpful and exciting in the chapter-4- Sensory Processing and Fine Motor Skills.

Chapter-7 discusses the difference between handwriting skills and fine motor skills. Heather Greutman mentions that Handwriting skills is a complex language expression skill which requires the overall integration of all skills such as gross motor skills, fine motor skills, visual motor skills and sensory processing skills, to have a mastery in handwriting. Handwriting difficulty in a child does not always stem from fine motor skills difficulties alone. So, she suggests it is highly recommended to get a child assessed by a professional (like Occupational Therapists, OT), if a child is really struggling with a skill or two.

For those who like reading books cover-to-cover (as I do), I would like to say this book can turn out to be technical. So, read the book for your knowledge base on fine motor skills and to be able to understand your young one’s development better and also to reap the benefits of a structured list of activities, games and milestones crucial for the young one’s development.

So, I’d like to close this book review with a poem by me, and here it goes…

Raising a child is simple enough you may say
A glide through a joy ride, hurray!
Trust me, my friend an unpleasant game it is sometimes.
Study, unlearn, learn
Still falling short on ideas & thoughts you feel…
Parenting is a conscious and instinctive indulgence.
You may or may not enjoy it sometimes,
But then learning such skills, it needs.
Ask me I have tried it.

Read.Raise.Rise. Happy Parenting!
#readraiserise

“Narratives by She Narrates”: My 4-Year-Old’s Engaging World

“NARRATIVES BY Pallavi Prakash Kumar SHE NARRATES”: MY 4-YEAR-YOUNG Pratham's ENGAGING WORLD- Lego blocks video and activity

The world of our children is nowhere near the practicalities we grown-ups feel drawn towards; it is rather filled with imagination, excitement, enthusiasm, and constant dynamism! 

No wonder, you’ll never find a child doing nothing! They are constantly engaged in one thing or the other. In my observance with Pratham and his friends, there are three things that kids like doing, most of the time. They are either 1) Building something or 2) Role-playing or 3) Storytelling.

I have tried secretly recording Pratham engaged in his activities- Lego blocks activities. Join me for a tour of his world (and the insights I could draw)! 

Video 1: Pratham – The Little, yet Brave Firefighter

This day, Pratham had made a fire-truck model with the Lego bricks sets he has, jointly playing the role of a firefighter/fireman.
Certainly, this way, teaching him about the roles of different people in our communities becomes easy.

Did you notice how a science concept like lever and fulcrum can become easy to explain to a child now? He has made a simple lever pivoted on the inline 360 rotating wheels acting as a fulcrum, as per his qualitative science knowledge he has.

He is also exhibiting his social skills when he says “when fire moves out, he is helping each other friends”. He is also instructing the (imaginary) people around when he says “Be careful, guys!” in this video.

If playtime can help our children learn so much with sub-conscious efforts, what more can we ask for! And the versatility Lego brings in cannot be appreciated enough. Today he is a firefighter, tomorrow he will be designing cars, and the day after maybe robots, the possibilities are endless, just like his imagination!

Video 2: Pratham – The Inquisitive Space Scientist

Another day, another adventure! This day, Pratham built a rocket using his Lego blocks. His eyes light up as he says ‘It’s a rocket. It goes to the moon!’. He takes pride in his creation and enthusiastically demonstrates how fast the rocket goes up.

Simple Lego activities like these make learning so much fun. Not only these help in refining motor skills but also help to build confidence and stimulate imagination and creativity. Watch out Elon Musk! 

Happy Lego building time!

Fine Motor Skills Development

The creation of a child from a single cell is magical, and so is the development of the complex human brain. But what aids the development of the human brain is rather a series of simple activities. 

The brain controls and facilitates the functioning of the entire body stimuli. So the development of our brain can be seen as a coding process whereby our brain learns various skills over time. One set of such skills is termed as ‘Fine Motor Skills’. Fine motor skills involve fine coordination between small muscles in our hands, wrists, fingers, feet, and toes to act in accordance with what we see. ‘Hand-eye coordination’ is a type of fine motor skills.  

Following are the six integral aspects of Fine Motor Skills:

● Agility
● Balance
● Coordination
● Power
● Reaction Time 
● Speed 

As we have highlighted above, the development of children’s fine motor skills can be boosted by some simple activities which are all about a fun learning experience. So the next time your child is tempted towards screen-time, try involving them in some of these fun activities instead!

Activity 1 – The Pulse Puzzle

The activity might sound like a tongue-twister, but it can be a great pastime activity, that involves absolutely no cost. Pick two distinct coloured pulses, say, the split Bengal gram and green gram, and add in beans like red kidney beans or the white-eyed peas. Mix them together in a bowl and your activity is ready. Now encourage your child to segregate them and put them into different bowls. The activity not only involves the act of picking and holding but also improves the child’s recognition skills with respect to colours and textures, and might even encourage them to eat pulses. Start with two pulses and then you can make your way up from there. 

Activity 2 – Lego

Lego building blocks are children’s absolute favourite (and adults’ too, honestly!). Turning, placing, and flipping the pieces support the development of fine-motor skills. And they also promote creativity and imagination as every Lego play hour is an opportunity to build and talk about something new altogether!

Activity 3 – Craft Fun

Often parents fear giving scissors to their children concerning over the sharp-edges. But now there are a variety of child-safe scissors (safety scissors) available in the market that are kid-friendly. Cutting and pasting activities are a perfect setup to build hand-eye coordination and boost to creativity is a bonus! Also, colouring and painting are great activities too. 

Activity 4 – Threading Beads

Threading beads can be a great activity to promote visual motor-skills. And you can always play around colours and types of beads that encourage children to come up with newer patterns. Also, it enhances children’s detail to attention. You can step-up the activity and play with variations. One such variation can be showing a pattern of threaded beads of different colours and asking your child to replicate the same. Playing around such variations can keep the freshness of the activity intact and boost your child’s retention. 

Little activities like these go a long way and strengthen the foundation of our children’s development. Also, it is important to incorporate these activities as a fun learning experience and not like a to-do-list activity. Our children learn everything at their pace. The ‘right-age’ or the ‘right-pace’ is a myth. Don’t let any of these viral ideas ruin your experience of parenting. 

To read about my parenting experience with my child on his fine motor skills and when it consciously started, go to the link here.

I prefer encouraging what my child is genuinely interested in (mainly Lego brick building) along with free-printable activities I receive from ‘Growing Hands-On Kids’ website by Heather Greutman. 

Happy Parenting!

Thank you, dear Santa, for the Lego Bricks!

by Pallavi Prakash Kumar

Lego Classic Bricks set were Santa’s present for Pratham during Christmas celebrations in winters of 2018. I remember this day because I was intuitively guided to introduce a Lego kit to my child.

The blog is over!

I got to be kidding, right?

Yes! Of course, I am kidding…

The story of Pratham’s gift from Santa goes like this… C’mon, read on…

It was sometime in the month of July 2018, when Pratham and I were waiting outside the car parking at a South Delhi mall for my husband to bring around the car from the basement parking at the fourth level below the ground. It was going to take some time, and I knew it. After a few minutes of waiting, I started looking around at the shoppers passing by and began hearing some distinct voices along with thunderous clapping that was getting louder by the minute. A small thank you speech followed by the clatter of cups & plates. I so wanted to know what was happening and followed the direction where all these celebratory sounds were emerging from. I soon came upon a gathering where kids of ages three and above, escorted by their parents had begun dispersing in twos and threes, carrying a card and a goodie packet in their little hands. I asked one of the leaving parents keenly, what was the gathering all about? The lady answered, “This was a Lego robotics workshop for kids above 3+ years old.”

My guess was right; it was a ‘Parent & kids’ workshop as Parent’s day was round the corner. Pratham & I strolled a little closer to the celebration area. My eyes grew big and round seeing the large colourful rubber blocks, almost 6-7-inches long, sorted and kept arranged in different large boxes. On the table, set around the centre stage, were many medium & small-sized blocks, a few pullies and belt systems and few laptops. Also, stationed on the centre stage were some small to big Lego mats positioned on the interlocked colour mats. There were kids doing alphabet writing, some were busy colouring, some in the process of making objects of their choices – all fully engrossed. Some kids in groups were around the table, some playing over the mats, some others leaving with their parents and some reluctant to leave & being pulled by their parents. It was a beautiful sight to see so many genuinely interested and engrossed children in the making and learning. It was a pleasant and invigorating experience for me as a parent, “Alone the Lego sets keeping them engaged so sincerely. Wow!

Pratham wanted to go inside to play with big blocks, and he started wailing and pulling my hand to take him inside. Seeing this, a fair, golden brown-eyed lady standing by the entrance invited me inside. I immediately called my husband and requested him to wait a bit for us.

As I stepped inside, I realised that this was a path-breaking moment for me. I wanted to know more about the Lego robotics workshop. This opened me up to bombard the host with questions that were flooding my mind; I was excited.  I wasted no time in introducing ourselves my name, my son’s name, his age, his interests etc. Quick as a supercomputer, she registered our names and returned in a jiffy with exuberance “Hi Pallavi, Hi Pratham”. As soon as she smiled at Pratham, he rushed off to the play area, as if he just needed that invitation. My little one understands smiles well, approval signs. Now, I jumped asking my questions. At what age can we introduce Lego to the child, what is the age group required for robotics workshop, where & when does the classes happen, is there any Lego class for toddlers?

It was quite apparent looking at the large turnout of kids and parents that it was one of a kind and rare classes. She replied for the first time “My organization is called Zeki Jaan*, named after my father and I am a Turkish.” She further added with a broad smile, “Zeki means intelligent in Turkish and Jaan same as in Hindi means life, so it is intelligent life.” She also shared details about her decades of experience in Lego training, her aim to encourage critical and coding skills in children, STEM learning through Legos bricks and blocks with hands-on exercises. She added, “The classes are for toddlers, kids 4 -16 years old. Kids get to learn how to build simple machines using large pieces from an early age. Lego helps in fine motor skills development and spatial thinking.” Fine motor skills stood out to me as soon as she made that mention. She further explained “Introducing science concepts like balancing and gravity becomes easy, explaining physics concepts with models like gears and axles, wedges and screws, levers and pulleys becomes effortless too. We can also explain pattern matching, colour contrasts etc. through Lego-based activities.”

My phone rang before the conversation with the Turkish lady ‘Emine’ could come to any logical ending. It was my husband waiting at the exit gate. I had to leave. I could not wait for a second more. I quickly grabbed her business card as she handed one to me and left from the place with Pratham.

It was then that I first explored more about fine motor skills development in children. I usually prefer learning new subjects through books, so, I ordered the book ‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Heather Greutman**. I also learnt more about the bricks and blocks, their types and related activities for kids.

I had made up my mind after the conversations with Emine to gift Pratham his first Lego sets on his 3rd birthday, 10th December 2018. But somehow it skipped my mind in preparation for his birthday party. Later, when Pratham’s class teacher asked all the parents to send across a surprise Santa gift with the child’s name on it. It was then that I remembered buying Pratham his first Lego set. These gifts were supposed to be distributed respectively to the child by the Santa during Christmas celebrations hosted by the school.

I bought the set, gift-wrapped and labelled it with his name on the sticker and handed the gift box to the teacher. On 24th December, after the Christmas celebrations in the school, he came home happily, hopping and jumping, all excited and showing me his gift from Santa, it turned out to be a momentous day for both of us.

The ease of introducing him to new activities and new concepts with Lego is tremendous. An added advantage, my concerns over his increased screen time, and worrying about his overall development have reduced to a large extent.

A Santa bringing in a treasured memory and a gift for their child’s development, what more a mother could have asked for! All this happened automatically, at the right time, place and order. I had no knowledge of Lego or fine motor skills development up until that day. Had I not been there waiting for the car, had I not heard those mysterious clapping thunders, had I not followed my instincts? Lego sets and creative learning through bricks & blocks wouldn’t have taken its birth in my son’s life at the right time, and I wouldn’t have explored consciously about fine motor skills development which now is one of my favourite indulgences when choosing toys and activities for my little one.

This year we’ve enrolled him for structured bricks and blocks building programme.

* Facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/zekijaan and website link: http://www.sproutingstems.in/

**Here‘s more about the book ‘Basics of Fine Motor Skills’ by Heather Greutman.