At first, I was apprehensive about letting my toddler attend a free crafting class at the local library. I was certain glitter and glue would be plastered on the walls, but the kind Librarian reassured me, "Hey try it out, it's great for your child's fine motor skills." Well, she was forewarned I thought as I wheeled his stroller into the crafting room. I secretly hoped the library had a good insurance policy. Well, nothing was destroyed at the library that afternoon, and my child has grown into a budding artist. He never had an issue with handwriting, and instead of monotonous cutting exercises, he got to cut out his own artwork which now adorns three-quarters of our home.
According to Dr. Stephanie Drummond of San Diego Occupational Therapy, "Art can definitely improve and support a child's fine motor skills and their creativity. These fine motor skills will be foundations for their lives-for handwriting and for all skills that require dexterity."
Jennifer Escobedo, Art Instructor at Monart School of Art in Liberty Station, has seen the positive results of children learning to draw and improving their dexterity. "If a student has an interest in developing their motor skills and has a desire to make art then Monart is a great match. Our program is both visual and tactile, so it is a great way to strengthen hand-eye coordination."
Dr. Drummond encourages her patients to spend less time on screens and more time playing to improve fine motor skills. "Games that reinforce using your hands and fine motor skills and engaging in less electronic media and more creative play. Simple activities like playdough using play scissors to cut playdough, stickers, tape ripping are all examples of activities to promote palmar arch development and finger isolation. You would be surprised how many kids I see who have no idea how to rip the tape off a tape dispenser, or how to fold paper."
"Art is a visually stimulating and a rewarding experience for a child," says Jennifer Escobedo adding that art can teach children "to use their wrists and fingers in unison, requires two-handed coordination, blending and controlling mediums such as chalk, pastel, watercolor, and paint, and the use of clay all can improve dexterity."
When to be Concerned
Dr. Drummond, "We look at a child's handedness and if they are still switching hands in Kindergarten that is a red flag. Letter and number reversals past Kindergarten and First Grade are also red flags. Reading backward, or spelling words backward is another red flag that we look for. A strong dislike for all fine motor tasks is another indicator that something may be going on."
Ms. Escobedo concludes "The arts are so important for the cognitive and emotional development of all children (and adults alike). Monart School of Art offers a free trial class visit www.monartsandiego.com for information, and visit San Diego Occupational Therapy at www.sandiegooccupationaltherapy.com