The second part in the motor skills blog series, fine motor skills. If you’re behind here are some links…
Section One: Intro and Gross Motor Skills
Section Two: Fine Motor Skills (This section)
Section Three: How to Maintain and Improve Motor Skills With Dance
Fine Motor Skills: these are smaller movements making use of smaller muscles, most commonly in the hands. Movement examples would include clenching a fist, wiggling toes or using tools such as cutlery or a computer mouse and keyboard.
In dance props are our main source of support in fine motor skill development and maintenance, but there are things that can be done without. When working with children in an Educating Dance (cross-curricular) class small gestures are wonderful at conveying meaning. I used them in our Dinosaurs themed classes when doing a warm up about excavation and fossils (see photo below). A dance club as a whole can also be a good opportunity for practice as participants often have to get changed and therefore use buttons, buckles and laces.
In our Active Armchairs classes we do the finger count in our first warm up dance. This is predominantly about the opening the lungs (we shout our counts as the fingers open), but it is also great for fine motor skills, the circulatory system and generally waking bodies and minds for the class. It is one of the few essential movements that are found in Active Armchairs sessions, though the TRS Teachers still put their own spin on it.
Props make development and maintenance of fine motor skills much easier. Simply holding a relatively small object is beneficial. Squeezing balls or egg shakers (the TRS Teachers have hundreds of these between them) takes the benefit to the next stage. I have a fun trick with scarfs where by you screw it up into one hand, hiding it away, then slowly open it to make a rose.
Fine motor skills, like gross motor skills, are key to freedom and self worth, but in different ways. Fine motor skills allow someone to press buttons, write and draw, point and make signifying gestures or sign. Without them, as with gross motor skills the ability to perform simple tasks is lost. Children have a sense of excitement and pride when they receive a pen licence. An adult who can write down or draw their thoughts is able to express themselves artistically.
The next section is How to Maintain and Improve Motor Skills With Dance.