Hesperian Health Guides

Hand and finger skills

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 10: Movement > Hand and finger skills

All children develop hand and finger skills, but these skills are harder to learn for children who cannot see. A child who cannot see well must learn to control his fingers, hands and arms because he depends so much on them to give him information about the world. These skills are also important when he learns to read Braille.

Children who cannot see well may not be as active as other children. Encourage your child to participate in the everyday activities that will help him develop:

  • strength and flexibility in his hands and fingers
  • the ability to feel small and fine details and shapes with his fingers
a child picking up pebbles.
a boy using an abacus.
an older boy working in a field.
as a young child older and
at school
beginning to
learn a trade

To help your child develop strength and flexibility in his hands and fingers

Give your child tasks or make up games in which he uses his finger muscles — for example, rolling balls of mud or clay, kneading bread dough, shelling peas, or squeezing oranges.

a child tearing leaves as a woman holding a piece of cloth speaks.
Now we have enough stuffing for the pillow, Pierre.

Give your child tasks or make up games in which he breaks or tears things — like grass, leaves, corn husks, or shells — into little pieces.

a woman speaking to a child wringing wet clothes with his hands.
You're a big help, Sesi.

Encourage your child to do things that require turning his hand, like wringing the water out of wet clothes, opening jars with screw-on lids, or turning the radio off and on.

2 children drawing in the sand.

Encourage your child to scribble and draw. Drawing in wet sand or mud lets him feel the shapes that he has drawn.

a man helping a child tie a shoe.

Teach your child games or skills in which he must use his fingers separately, like putting shoelaces through the holes of his shoes or tying knots.
a child weaving a basket.

Teach your child crafts, like weaving, knitting, or crocheting, that require skillful use of his hands.

Activities like pushing toys through a hole in a box, eating with the fingers or with eating tools, and using buttons are all good for developing strength and flexibility.

To help your child develop the ability to feel fine details and shapes with his fingers

a man speaking to a crawling child.
Isaac, the floor is smooth and cold. But the rug feels warmer, doesn't it?

Let your child crawl on different surfaces, like wood floors, rugs, wet and dry grass, mud, and sand.

a woman speaking as a child touches clothing on a bed.
Can you find your winter shirt, Domingo? It feels thicker than your summer shirt.

Encourage your child to find his own clothing by the feel of the material.

a woman speaking as she and a child work together.
Good, Sonu! You can find the stones and dirt in the rice as well as I can.

Ask your child to help with
chores in which he must feel the
differences between small things.

a girl speaking as a child holds a piece of paper with a circle on it.
Can you follow the string with your fingers, Francisco?
That shape is called a circle.

Glue string or yarn in different patterns on a piece of paper or cloth. Then let your child trace the lines with his fingertips.