It’s a little known fact that out of all the “tools of the trade” utilised by child therapists, there is one which could very well be considered the most widespread and available to the public: stickers. Of course, we all know what these little sticky (and many times sparkly) pieces of plastic are. So, what’s the big deal about them, anyway? Well, it turns out that, other than just being loads of fun for children to play with, they can also serve a key role in a child’s early-stage muscle development, despite children being more familiar with them as rewards given for assignments completed with distinction, or even as a way to arouse enthusiasm for their school work.
As enjoyable as they might seem, the very act of peeling them off from the paper upon which they stick can prove to be essential fingerwork for a child, especially for kids who are of infant age; specifically, children whose finger muscles are still developing, and require further training so as to help their dexterous little digits. But that’s not the only reason to buy a whole papyrus-scroll long sheet of stickers for your kids; there are a number of other physical benefits that a good long hard day of peeling can do for a child. This article aims to address just what benefits playing with stickers can have on a child.
1. Improving visual identification skills
With most stickers, there are many to choose from within every purchase. I mean, they are stickers: not exactly the most expensive toy, which would explain why they are so widespread. And thus here is the crux of their value to many toddlers: with such a platter of colourful choices, kids will be able to analyse which of the following suits their fancy, practising their colour and shape identification skills, as well as a limited (but crucial) form of their soon to be everyday-applied analytical skills.
Similarly, this provides similar benefits for their own sense of spatial awareness. Such skills allow us to better make heads or tails of visually based tasks, such as reading and writing. When applying stickers in the way young kids usually do (as in, colourfully decorating their maths and English textbooks with their many stickers), these little pieces of bright and multicoloured plastic can often help young children through visual aids, aiding them in regards to identifying where to begin writing on a page, or how big letters should be when unconsciously comparing their ABCs to the easily identifiable stickers on the margins of the page.
2. Bilateral hand coordination
Teaching a child how to nimbly grasp things with one hand is hard enough, but teaching them to coordinate both? Luckily for hair grasping parents around the world, there are plenty of ways to teach a child how to synchronise both one’s hands effectively. Utilising zippers and scissors, as well as learning to tie one’s shoelaces all make for great practice for children in this regard (though the latter might seem a little daunting). Take stickers, for example: peeling the plastic off of the sticky part might seem easy to you or I, but that’s because adults engage in a whole range of activities that require the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. Children have not developed this type of quick hand coordination yet and hence, their hand movements might be a bit imprecise and wonky. That’s why a simple two handed activity, such as peeling stickers, is a great way to introduce kids to a skill they will eventually be using on a daily basis (driving cars and typing on computers, that is; not peeling stickers).
3. Fine motor skills
Indeed, the main advantage that comes with the habitual peeling of stickers is not just the fact that the child will eventually have prodigious peeling skills; playing with stickers helps young children develop their nimble fingers. Think about it, in order to properly peel the sticker off of its plastic sheet, the users must not only coordinate fingers on both hands, they need to focus using careful pincer motions. As strange as it might sound, this is highly helpful for early level finger motion development, specifically in the area of fine motor improvement, which encompasses the use and coordination of specifically small muscles within the hand. Other examples of activities that apply fine motor skills include sewing, working with string or picking up tiny objects such as beads.
These are only the main benefits; there are a number of peripheral advantages that children can capitalise on, not only from peeling stickers all day, but from a whole range of everyday activities one would have thought merely frivolous. Gakken specialises in compiling all of these cognitively and physically beneficial activities through fun and easy to consume products. One of them readily available is the Play Smart Workbook series, which provides kids with a wide variety of tasks that train the overall development of a young mind; something crucial to children still within the developmental stage. Feel free to check out our offerings.