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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 14     pa r t 1: u n d e r s ta n d i n g t h e n e e d s o f c h i l d r e n Fine-motor activities should also be encouraged to ensure the refinement of small-muscle coordination. Building towers with blocks or other stackable materials, turning the pages of a book, and moving their fingers independently are examples of developing fine-motor skills. Ample opportunity for these types of activities should be available, because hand-eye and fine-motor skill development play a huge part in a child’s ability to prepare for future learning. Having small-motor skill materials (books, crayons, scissors, blocks) available to toddlers is a must. Preschool-Age Physical and Motor Development Preschool children are generally taller, thinner, and more proportionate in their appearance than infants and toddlers. Three-year-olds enjoy repeating physical activi- ties, such as sliding, jumping, or riding a bike. Three-year-olds can usually walk on a balance beam or hop on one foot. They can bounce and catch a ball. They love to run, and they do so frequently without falling. Three-year-olds are learning to draw simple shapes; zip, snap, and fasten; and use scissors, brushes, pens, pencils, crayons, and markers. Usually at this stage their toilet training is completed. As the three-year-olds grow and their gross-motor movements develop and mature, their ability to run, jump, hop, throw, and climb should continue to improve. They begin to dress unassisted and to run with ease. They can put puzzles together. Older preschoolers begin to use the left or right hand predominantly. You need to permit children to use their preferred hand comfortably. That means your envi- ronment must accommodate left-handed children as well as right-handed children. Left-handed baseball gloves and scissors are examples of accommodating left-handed children. Proficient use of scissors is another important developmental indicator because it shows that five-year-olds are developing their pincer grip, the small muscles in their hands that allow them to hold a pencil. Opportunities for this type of development need to be considered in each day’s schedule of activities for preschoolers. Understanding these benchmarks means that as part of your quality care, you make sure you have sufficient and appropriate materials to foster all of these types of healthy physical development. Preschool children need outdoor space where they can engage in gross-motor activity, as well as effectively organized indoor areas that pro- vide them with ample opportunity to refine their fine-motor skill development. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL