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28 Apr

Barriers to Learning: Large & Fine Motor Skills

Added by : Sabina Langson

One of the most common concerns among teachers today is how to deal with learners who have barriers to learning.

Early detection of barriers to learning ensures that learners get the necessary interventions which can lead to successful learning.

It is for this reason that we, at GM South Africa Foundation, are piloting a new programme for teachers focusing on addressing barriers to learning.

There has been an overwhelming response and interest shown from over 90 teachers at 26 schools. Because of the huge interest shown we have decided to maximise the reach of this programme by implementing the programme with one set of schools from February to June and then run the programme again with a second set of schools from July to November.

Each cohort of teachers will participate in six workshops. The purpose of these workshops is to provide opportunities for teachers to develop skills which will enable them to:


Our 4th workshop was presented on the 25 April and 76 teachers from various schools attended. The focus of the workshop was on the importance and development of fine and large motor skills in learners, how it impacts learning and activity ideas that can be implemented to help learners.

Acquiring motor skills is just one part of a child’s holistic development. Mastering both fine and large motor skills are important for children’s growth and independence. Having good motor control helps children explore the world around them and it helps with cognitive development.

Fine motor development involves the development and coordination of the small motor muscles to execute skills such as writing, drawing, painting, cutting with scissors, tying shoelaces, buttoning and zipping. Learners who have underdeveloped small muscles will struggle to execute these skills. Research has shown that grip strength has decreased because laptops and smartphones have left our children pointing and swiping instead of manipulative play.

Teachers were provided with various resources that were used practically during the workshop. These resources would form part of their tool boxes that they can use as classroom-based activities to enhance these skills.

Activity ideas were also shared with the teachers on how to develop the large muscles. Large (Gross) motor development helps the child to build strong muscles and bones to support their growing bodies. It is important for children to have a good balance which is essential for good posture and prevents them from tiring quickly. Outdoor activities should be done often with games such as playing hopscotch, wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, skipping, throwing and catching balls, etc. One of our Intern male teachers demonstrated the crab walking exercise much to the delight of the participants.

Part of the workshop also included handwriting and scissors skills and the complexity of executing these skills in a coordinated and controlled fashion for young learners. Practical activity ideas were demonstrated on how to master these skills.

The workshop was interactive with teachers fully participating and sharing classroom practices. Teachers were provided with a user-friendly handbook containing information and activity ideas relevant to the potential barriers of motor skills. The handbook also contains developmental charts with milestones that teachers can use as a guide.

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