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Young students in Riverview are using tools to help strengthen fine motor skills

Posted at 7:19 AM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 07:19:01-04

When you hear the words classroom tools, you probably think pencils or calculators.

But in one classroom in the Riverview School District, it's a little more straight forward.

They're breaking out the hammers and wrenches, all to help tune fine motor skills, abilities that have suffered a significant decline since the pandemic.

The students in the classroom are learning valuable life skills through an interactive workshop.

"My favorite thing about it is they're learning through play. So what you see here is you see them learning because we're adults but to them they're just playing," Alex Schmoekel, an early childhood teacher, said.

It was only recently that Schmoekel and her team noticed a shift – an increase in children who are lacking fine motor skills.

She sent out to help by bringing tool sets into the classroom environment to help bridge the gap.

"I would say since the pandemic we have noticed weakness in their hand muscles so anything that we can do extra activities to strengthen their fine motor this will help them," she said.

There are studies to back up her observation. One from the National institutes of Health found the pandemic reduced opportunities for children to engage in fundamental motor skills.

Another published in Jama Pediatrics found screen time on an iPad or phone impacted fine motor skill development and communication.

"It's been great we started the year where he would do just a 'G' and an 'I' for his name when they came and interviewed before he started," Kristin Henry, a mother, to 4-year-old Gavin, said. "Now he's writing his full name, he's writing our names and sentences."

Henry is also a teacher at Riverview Early Childhood Learning Center.

"It really gives them a good start, especially socially when they're already going into kindergarten already knowing things they usually don't," Henry said. "They're learning new tools, new vocabulary. Maybe using tools that maybe they've seen before or maybe they've never seen before."

They're also having a great time in the process.