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Significance of zippers in the early childhood development

Managing all the tricky fasteners in particular, call on so many fine motor skills - each of them represents an important milestone in its own right!

WHY IS BUTTONING & ZIPPING SO IMPORTANT?

The ability to manage clothing fasteners supports self-dressing skills and fosters independence with kids. In the Occupational Therapy world, self-dressing is an important Activity of Daily Living or Occupation, which is why we care about it so much!

Using zippers is a complicated functional skill for kids. Managing two hands at the same time at the belly level, using one hand to hold down the zipper chamber and the zipper pull while the other hand is holding the end of the zipper and trying to thread it into the chamber…it’s a huge motor planning process requiring many essential skills.

WHICH FINE MOTOR SKILLS ARE NECESSARY FOR  MANIPULATION OF CLOTHING FASTENERS?

Besides fundamental gross motor skills, visual and cognitive ability, following key fine motor manipulation skills are prerequisites for the independent management of clothing fasteners:

  • Bilateral hand coordination & hand preference – using both hands cooperatively together, where one has a stabilizing, while the other has more dominant, manipulating role
  • Controlled release skills– ability to release items carefully, in a precise manner and timing
  • Hand preference– dominance of one hand to take on the main role in fine motor activities
  • Separation of two sides of one hand– part of the hand where thumb/index/middle fingers represents more active part of the hand, allowing greater strength and precision, as the 4th/5th fingers indicate a more stable side of the hand.
  • In-hand manipulation– ability to efficiently move items around the hand (from the palm to finger tips and vice versa).
  • Eye-hand coordination– translating visual information as a motor movements guide
  • Grasping development– manipulation of three different sorts of grasps: power grasp (“fist-like grasp”), pincer grasp (“thumb to fingertip” type of grasp) & lateral (“thumb tip to side of index finger” type of grasp).

WHAT IS THE AGE-APPROPRIATE TIMING FOR BUTTONING AND ZIPPING SKILLS?

And can a zipper be “stupid” if our frustrated 4-year-old explodes during the zipper opening scene? Here are some general guidelines to help you out!

1,5y to 2y: 

  • Unzips zipper with large tab
  • Pulls large zipper tab up if adult holds bottom taut

2,5 to 3,5 years: 

  • Unzips and unsnaps clothing while wearing it

3 to 4,5 years:

  • Closes front snap on a garment
  • Buttons and unbuttons while wearing front-opening garment

5 to 6 years: 

  • Hooks and zips up a zipper while wearing the clothing

When a child struggles with fasteners expected to be mastered at their age, a pediatrician & children’s physiotherapist need to analyze the source of the difficulty - Is it coming from hand-eye coordination or visual skills? Or the difficulty lies with pinch and grasp patterns? Bilateral coordination? Struggle with maintaining a stable position while fastening or too low frustration tolerance? Or simply just a lack of exposure or practice?

WHAT MAKES BEGABUNGO GUITAR SO PERFECT IN MANAGING ZIPPERS?

As far as building fine motor skills for the purpose of full independence in dressing, PRACTICE MAKES IT PERFECT!

Therefore, grab your Begabungo GUITAR, as it can be detached from the clothes / backpack whenever you want and get a full and clear perception how fasteners operate (visual information).

 

Sing a song “Unzip from left to right, Zip from right to left” and buzz through the steps involved as they are happening. This is vital in terms of developing practical motor memories for future reference.

Fixed-end zippers and a need to use both hands at the same time in a coordinating way represent a key milestone in managing “free-end” garments fasteners at the later stage.

Practicing the moves while the guitar is on the garment on the belly height, support the kids to acquire this amazing new super power skill through unstructured and free play.  

I believe in you my little Begabungo, you can do this!

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