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Types of Motor Skills

by Darlena Cunha

As your child grows from infant to preschooler, she'll slowly come to be in control of her body. As a baby, she will first improve her muscle strength, raising her head and eventually lifting herself up. She'll start grasping at objects and be able to hold utensils. These gross and fine motor skills will require balance and coordination, another subset of motor skills. As she develops physically, these skills indicate a perceptual development as well, one closely linked to the motor skills at hand.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are the first your baby will develop, starting at just 1 month old. According to the website Toddler Station, these skills help your child use his large muscles to control his entire body. At a few months old, your baby will start raising his head to take in more of the world around him. Eventually, he'll be able to raise his chest from a lying position. By 6 months of age, he'll be trying to sit on his own. Crawling, pulling himself up, coasting and eventually walking are all gross motor skills. You can help your baby develop these skills by giving him a reason to raise his head. Show him something colorful or interesting just out of his view to grab his curiosity. As he becomes a toddler, let him use your fingers for balance as he tests his new leg muscle strength out.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve control over the smaller muscles in your baby's hands and feet. You'll notice her start to clench her fingers around your finger at just a few months old, which is the beginning block to fine motor skill mastery. As your child grows into a preschooler, she'll need to improve her pincer grasp to hold cups, spoons, and eventually writing implements. You can help her control these movements by having her participate in crafts that involve squeezing tweezers and tongs together, according to Pre Kinder, a website designed to prepare children for preschool and kindergarten. These activities can be anything from basic yarn sewing to decorating paper with beads. Even just practicing coloring, writing and holding a marker correctly will improve these skills.

Balance and Coordination

As your child tests his gross motor skills, most notably by learning to walk, he'll need to improve his balance and coordination simultaneously, according to Kids Health. Finding his center of gravity and using it to his advantage can be a long, hard battle for a kid, and falling is just part of the journey. Allow your child to get used to the way he moves and how he must carry himself. As he grows, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages dancing, bike-riding and roller skating to improve these skills.

Perceptual Development

As a child begins to control her own movements and she lets the world enter her mind, she will begin to organize that information through thought patterns, according to the California Department of Education. When she swivels her head toward you or reaches out to you, you see not only her gross motor skill improvement but also her perceptual development as she connects who you are with what she wants from you, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. You'll also notice your infant picking up on tastes and developing her own affinities and aversions that will guide her throughout her life.

About the Author

Darlena Cunha has been a writer and editor since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Connecticut. Cunha is also completing her master's degree in mass communication.

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