When a child exercises muscles in the hand,
she/he is actually forming the brain.
Frank Wilson, in his book "The Hand: How It's Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture" traces the pivotal place of the human hand and the amazing opposable thumb in the evolution of the species. The density of the nerve ending in the fingers is mind boggling. When engaged in lively hand activities, the neural pathways of learning are laid down in the brain that will serve the child for the rest of their life! Until recent history, children were taught to plow, sow, weed, cultivate, harvest, grind, bake, care for the animals and more! These were meaningful activities that contributed to the family. Through the training of the hand, a deeper understanding of the world they lived in was forged.
It is important in early childhood to provide the first experiences of basic human tasks such as wrapping, sewing, tying, knotting, decorating, painting, picking, shaping, drawing, stirring, rolling, building, constructing and so forth. These are a child’s beginnings of using unskilled hands in experimentation and creative expression. Truly, it is just play at this point. But this play offers multiple opportunities for learning about the world, for constructing one’s own understanding and for developing skill.
Learning through the amazing and complex wisdom of the hands...