Focus fine motor, attention, communication

The development of fine motor skills (hand tasks) is closely linked to infant and toddler abilities to pay attention and explore different options for achieving a task. 

Good motor and imitation abilities are also linked to effective pre-verbal communication and language development. 

  • Infants are born with a natural curiosity about the world and the ability to pay attention to interesting objects (especially faces and
    hands) that come into their field of vision and will even stick out their tongues after watching a caregiver do the same.

  • From the first weeks infants take a great interest in what their hands are doing. They also very quickly start to try and reach people and objects that come within reaching distance. Providing your infant with opportunities for this early exploration will promote the development of an I-can-do attitude and confidence in his/her ability to interact with, and influence the world. 

  • Brain development is promoted when infants and toddlers engage in intentional, goal directed actions: they know what they want and use all their available resources to achieve their goal. 

  • Importance of attention and motivation 

    Toddlers with movement difficulties (developmental delay, joint hypermobility, low muscle tone, developmental coordination disorder, autism, Down's) may need dedicated time and support for learning new hand (fine motor) tasks. 

    Poor fine motor development is often associated with low motivation and poor attention abilities, along with a tendency to avoid tasks that unfamiliar and appear to be difficult. 

  • Getting a reluctant infant  to work hard at new tasks requires patience, imagination and most importantly a deep understanding of how games and activities can be adapted to draw the child in, and then changed to make them progressively more difficult.

  • Some toddlers and young children have a very strong dislike of touching soft and squishy substances and really dislike getting their hands dirty. 

    This dislike or even fear of "dirt" is probably linked to having an overactive disgust emotion.  Disgust is a very primitive and visceral emotion, the core function being to protect the individual toxins and pathogens. 

  • As soon as they are able to sit independently infants will start to move their arms up and down rhythmically. They soon discover that they can use this favorite action to make a very satisfactory noise by banging their hands on different surfaces such a tins, boxes and tables.  

  • One of my favorite bought toys is a set of nesting cups.  

    At 13 months Roan has just started figuring out how to take the nested cups apart and is getting the hang of putting one cup into another. 

  • Infants start to coordinate the actions of their hands to grasp, feel and manipulate objects from the first months.  The desire to reach and grasp successfully provides a powerful stimulus for developing anticipatory control of the trunk and head to counteract the destabilizing effects of arm actions.  Given the right opportunities for practice infants as young as 3 months