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How Toys Advance Motor Skill Development

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It’s easy to take for granted the skills we develop as a child that allow us to function in and interact with the world around us.

For example, motor skills allow us to accomplish even the simplest of tasks--from walking down stairs to using a spoon while eating.

Toys are great tools that can prepare your child to learn and physically engage with the world. From reading books to playing a game on the soccer field, these skills will be needed in a variety of settings in his or her future.

First things first--let’s dive a bit deeper into the two types of motor skills…

  1. Gross motor skills
  2. Fine motor skills

Gross motor skills involve movements related to larger muscles, such as legs and arms. You put these skills to use by simply walking around your neighborhood or lifting large items.

Fine skills use movements that involve smaller muscle groups, such as those in the hand and wrist. These motor skills are used for tasks such as picking up small objects or using a marker to draw.

Fine motor skills develop more slowly than gross motor skills because the kinds of delicate movements that enable children to manipulate objects (stacking and nesting blocks or putting together puzzle pieces, for example) are learned over time with a lot of practice.

This is why toys can be vital in providing your children with consistent use of motor skills, which are important for a child’s growth and independence.

Developing these muscles in order to possess good motor control not only helps children explore the world around them and become more independent--it also helps with  cognitive development.

It’s hard to deny that significant learning moments occur when interacting with objects that require both fine and gross motor skills.

In fact, research shows that during a child’s preschool years, pursuits that develop fine motor abilities and hand-eye coordination are far more useful than emphasis on

purely intellectual activities--such as learning the alphabet or how to count to ten.

There are various motor skill milestones children are expected to meet within certain age ranges.

For example, within the first six months your child is expected to…

  • Demonstrate a reflexive grasp when objects are placed in hand.
  • Reach for and grasp objects.

Between six to twelve months, they’ll be expected to…

  • Demonstrate controlled release of objects.
  • Pick up small object with thumb and one finger.
  • Transfer objects from one hand to the other.

Between one to two years, they’ll be expected to…

  • Build a tower of three small blocks.
  • Turn pages of a book.
  • Bring a spoon to the mouth.

These milestones and benchmarks shouldn’t be viewed too strictly--each child is unique and will develop at his/her own pace.

However, if children don’t develop the necessary motor skills, they’ll have trouble completing various physical and cognitive tasks.

This can have undesirable effects for your children in several realms--from joining in on social activities with other children, to learning to feed themselves, to holding a pencil in class.

If you have any concerns about your child's development, it’s best to talk to your pediatrician.

The best way to encourage and ensure motor skills, particularly fine motor skills, is to provide your little one with an assortment of materials and let their imagination run free.

For example, a child’s ability to stack blocks is one of the major milestones measured by health professionals, developing both fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. 

With their brightly-colored pieces, puzzles are another great example of an engaging toy for strengthening hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. 

Encouraging your child to complete the puzzle and calling out the name of each piece (for example, if each piece is a number or an animal) will make puzzles even more enjoyable for your little one.

Other effective toys are various art supplies (such as crayons, construction paper, paints and paintbrushes), pull-along toys, musical instruments, and train sets

To ensure they’re on track with developing these critical life skills, take proactive steps and ensure your son or daughter has these materials accessible.

To get you started, we’ve created the Cubbie Lee Toys Classic toy bundle, which contains 3 toys that are perfect for fine tuning motor skills. Purchase your bundle here! 

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