Areas Children May Experience Difficulty With
Play and Social Skills
- Play is a fun, safe, spontaneous and self-directed activity that is controlled by the player. Play allows a child to use their imagination and to explore their own environment. Play is the primary occupation for children, and encompasses skills they can utilise across their lifetime. For example, sensory, motor, cognition, communication and social skills.
- It is important that children play, as this forms the basis of how humans interact socially. It teaches children how to share, communicate with others and take turns. Play also develops their co-ordination and strength, and improves their self-confidence to try new experiences.
- More information on play and social skills can be found on: www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au
Fine Motor Skills
- Fine motor skills are the small movements we make with our fingers, hands or toes. Difficulties may be identified through slow, illegible handwriting, pencil grip issues, cutting, managing shoelaces/buttons/zippers, colouring or drawing.
- Fine motor skills are important for children when they are at school and in daily living. In school children are often expected to conduct tasks under a time restriction, an example of this is copying off the board, doing up shoelaces before/during school and playing board games with friends. By strengthening a child’s fine motor skills, the impact on their academic life, social life and independence can be avoided.
- More information on fine motor skills can be found on: www.rch.org.au
- Handwriting is a complex skill that develops over years of practice. It involves the co-ordination of eyes, arms, hands and development of a proper pencil grip. It is common that children experience difficulty with handwriting. There are many factors that impact on handwriting some of these include:
- Endurance (e.g. being able to write for a long period of time)
- Muscle strength (e.g. playing with playdough/theraputty to build strength)
- Problem solving
- Reading ability
- The formation of ideas or concepts
- Writing is a necessary life skill. Children require these skills to complete exams, compose stories and copy from the board. The development of a child’s handwriting also provides clues to other developmental problems that may hinder their learning.
- More information on handwriting can be found on: www.rch.org.au
Gross Motor Skills
- Gross motor skills are the larger movements of the body controlled by the larger muscle groups. Gross motor skills involve running, jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing, co-ordination and sport. Deficits or delays in gross motor skills can be identified in a child’s ability to get dressed (e.g. trying to put pants on whilst standing on one leg), sit upright at a desk or how they can physically cope with a full school day (endurance).
- More information on gross motor skills can be found on: www.ncac.acecqa.gov.au
Regulating Emotions or Behaviour
- Emotional regulation can be defined as actions or behaviours a child uses to identify, manage and express their feelings whilst engaging in activities or interacting with others. The inability to regulate emotions is often perceived as behavioural problems in children, however there may be another underlying cause. Children can often be saddened or frightened by new experiences and express their distress through crying, withdrawing, bedwetting or becoming particularly clingy to their parents.
- It is important to address emotional regulation so children become resilient to cope with difficult and stressful times in life. For example, the loss of a pet or loved one, a fight with a friend or moving to a new home.
- More information on regulating emotions can be found on: www.naeyc.org
- Involves the child being able to perform daily activities that are appropriate to a child’s developmental age, such as feeding, dressing, doing up shoe laces, opening a lunch box, or toileting independently.
- There are a number of issues which can contribute to toileting issues or incontinence, including:
- Sensory issues
- Behavioural-emotional issues
- Developmental skill delays (motor, social, language and attention)
- Environmental factors
- A change in routines
- Self-care skills are important as they often act as a precursor for many school related tasks. Most kindergartens and schools now have a requirement for a child to be toilet trained prior to attending the centre. If self-care skills are not appropriately developed they can become a limiting factor for many life experiences.
- More information on self-care skills can be found on: www.education.qld.gov.au
Attention and Concentration
- Attention is the cognitive ability to focus on a task, issue or object. Concentration is a child’s ability to focus all of their attention over an extended period of time.
- These components are particularly important in a school setting. If attention and concentration are not addressed a child can become easily distracted in class. This can impact on their academic performance or family dynamic, as they are not able to attend to certain tasks at school or in the home
- More information on attention and concentration can be found on: www.rch.org.au
- Children experience new sensations every day through, touch, taste, smell, sight, sounds or movement. The way in which they process these sensations varies between each child. Many children face challenges when it comes to sensory processing. Children who experience difficulty with sensory processing may:
- Pull away from something they don’t like the feeling of – this could be light touch or too much pressure.
- Not like certain clothing because of to how it feels
- Appear to be too rough with other children/or toys
- Avoid bright lights, or alternatively they might stare intensely at a bright light
- Be a picky eater
- Shy away from loud noises and may cover their ears to tune out the noise
- Exhibit hyperactivity
- Have attention difficulties
- Be slow/inaccurate when copying from blackboard or textbooks
- Experience difficulty reading, writing and spelling
- Sensory processing is important as it provides children with essential information about their own body and the environment in which they function. Senses are the foundation of skill development. For example, if sensory processing is not addressed, it can impact gross motor areas and result in a decline of the child’s social development.
- More information on sensory processing can be found on: www.ncac.acecqa.gov.au