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Check your child's readiness for kindergarten

Heading off to kindergarten is an exciting time for a child and for parents, too. Make certain your child’s motor skill development is ready for the first day of “big” school.

“Fine-motor skills are among the most important skills for a child who is entering school,” said Occupational Therapist Janine Reter. “Small muscles in the hands are used to help children grasp a pencil, a pair of scissors or a glue stick.”

Parents can do some simple and fun activities with their child to test their fine-motor skills. A bonus will be the time spent together before your preschooler becomes a kindergartner.

  1. Grasp a pencil. Provide your child with a pencil or crayon and ask them to pinch it between their thumb and forefinger. This motion is very important as children write and color both at school and at home.
  2. Finger-paint. Find some old clothes and cover a flat surface with white craft paper. Provide your child with colorful finger paints and allow them to make pictures and designs using their fingers.
  3. Cutting up. Using family-friendly magazines, help your child search for colorful pictures of people and animals and cut them out using blunt scissors.
  4. Blow bubbles. Take the fun outside and enjoy some time blowing bubbles. Grasping the bubble wand is a good exercise for your child’s hand muscles.

Gross motor skills use the body’s large muscles for movement, such as walking and running. Development of gross motor skills is important as children navigate the terrain at school.

“Children use their gross motor skills when running and playing on an uneven playground, climbing the steps of a slide and kicking a soccer ball,” said Pediatric Therapist Peggy Richardson. “These skills are developed from birth as a child’s muscles allow them to move in coordination.”

Parents concerned that their child may not be developmentally ready for kindergarten—either through motor skills or speech—may consider scheduling a free developmental milestone screening.

Janine Reter, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist at Maury Regional Physical Therapy in Spring Hill and Chapel Hill and Peggy Richardson, PT, is a pediatric physical therapist with Maury Regional Physical Therapy in Columbia. Free developmental milestone screenings are available for children at several Maury Regional Health therapy locations. To learn more about scheduling a screening, call 931.380.4014.