Fine motor skills involve the muscles of the hand, fingers and thumb. They help us perform important tasks such as feeding ourselves, writing, and grasping objects. They do get better with practice, so it is good to start early (but age appropriately).
WHY ARE FINE MOTOR SKILLS IMPORTANT?
Fine motor is an almost continual part of all our lives. We are constantly moving, picking things up, manipulating objects, and so on. The more we are able to develop these skills, especially as children, the more we are able to access the world around us.
- They allow children to play with small objects
- Encourages creativity
- Develops communication skills (talking, writing and drawing)
- Encourages independence
- Improves physical awareness
- Improves hand-eye coordination
- Builds and boosts confidence
WHAT ARE SOME FINE MOTOR SKILLS WE NEED?
- Holding a pencil/crayon/etc and then scribbling, coloring, drawing, writing
- Cutting with scissors
- Dressing toys
- Playing with blocks, Legos, etc.
- Tying shoelaces
- Doing up sandals
- Doing up zippers, buttons, velcro
- Using cutlery/silverware
- Opening bags and food containers
- Cleaning teeth
- Brushing hair
RED FLAGS FOR FINE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
- No interest in cutting or drawing
- Not trying to dress themself or do their teeth
- Avoids anything “fiddly”
- Not picking up small items with pincer grasp
**please note that it is best not to push children earlier than they are ready. For example: scissor skills are really not fully developed until the age of 6. At about the age of 4 children can cut and can start doing it in a line, but they are not accurate. Pushing children early is not ideal. Wait until they show they are ready.
ACTIVITIES TO HELP BUILD AND PRACTICE
- Set the table
- Hold knives, forks, and spoons to eat
- Pour juice into a cup
- Wipe the table with a sponge
- Help with meals—stir, shake, chop, cut, and mix
- Get dressed—button, zip, snap, buckle, and fasten
- Use Velcro tabs
- Open and close containers with lids
- Cut with child-safe scissors
- Finger paint
- Use a paintbrush
- Play with playdough and clay—roll, smoosh, pat, pound, and use tools like popsicle sticks or stamps
- Draw, scribble, or write with crayons, pencils, and markers
- Put together puzzles
- Place pegs in a board
- Build with small blocks
- Play board games
- Play with puppets