When a baby grows, they learn so much about the world through the use of their hands. The hands first hold the bottle, reach for Mom or Dad’s face, and cause a reaction from a toy. As the child grows, so does the sophistication of the hand musculature. By 4 months, a baby will be able to retain an object placed in their hand. By 6 months, the baby is typically reaching for objects and banging things together. By the time a child is a year old; they can pull their own socks off, put things in containers, and dump them out (what fun!)
As the child is growing, so, too is the differentiation between the sides of the hand, which becomes paramount later in preschool and beyond with holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, and other fine motor activities. When a child can hang with their whole body weight on their hands, such as on Cassarokids rocker or the triangle, they are developing the grip strength needed to manipulate and sustain their grasp on small objects. Navigating an appropriate grasp with the hands when climbing up a triangle or cube is not only assisting the child with developing their coordination but is actually strengthening their finger muscles, too. When descending Cassarokids climber, these in-hand skills are facilitated further with the grasp required by the child to maintain their body on the apparatus for safety. Cassarokids play clips build on these skills further as 3- and 4-year-olds can use these newly-developed hand muscles to squeeze them open and place them onto the climbers. 4- and 5- year olds who are learning to write will experience wrist stabilization facilitated by writing in vertical with Cassarokids chalkboard. Developing these skills during play directly translates into skills needed for preschool and kindergarten such as holding a marker with a tripod grasp, opening food containers, and cutting with scissors. 5- and 6- year olds can work on strengthening their writing skills on Cassarokids chalkboard as they start to differentiate between upper and lower case letters.
As play is the work of childhood, our job as parents is to provide our children with fun opportunities for play, while also helping them to develop their hand strength and dexterity to prepare them for preschool, kindergarten, and beyond.
This article was written in collaboration with our resident Occupational Therapist Rebekah Tolin OTR/L. Have a question for our OTs? Let us know in the comments!