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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

How To Develop Fine Motor Skills At Home!

Updated: May 20

Fine motor skills are a basic building block of any movement we do especially hand movements like writing, eating, and holding something, etc. It is an important milestone in the years of growth and development.

“Fine motor skills refer to the ability to use the small muscles of the hands with adequate strength, dexterity and coordination to grasp and manipulate objects,” Dana Sciullo, a licensed pediatric occupational therapist in Pennsylvania.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. We rely on these skills to do key tasks in school, at work, and in everyday life.

Here are some examples of when we use fine motor skills:

· Holding a pen or pencil

· Drawing pictures and writing neatly

· Using a keyboard

· Using scissors, rulers, and other tools

People can have problems with fine motor skills at any age and for different reasons. When young kids struggle, a common cause is developmental coordination disorder (DCD). This is also known as dyspraxia.

How do fine motor skills develop?

Different fine motor skills develop at different ages. For example, a 4-year-old may hold a crayon with their fist, using their whole hand to draw. Five-year-olds can start using a pencil between the first and middle fingers and thumb, as adults can. The more advanced fine motor skills start from elementary school like when children learn to tie shoes between 5 and 6 years old. Handwriting starts by the age of 6 years.

There are many factors that can affect the speed at which children develop their fine motor skills. It can be premature birth, bodily injury, and certain illnesses. Medical conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy can cause delays. Also, it can happen due to certain types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sometimes, it can also be due to social factors rather than developmental.

Recent scientific studies suggest attentiveness is related to fine motor skill development, and therefore, children with some subtypes of ADHD are likely to also experience fine motor delays.

Here’s a chart that can give you a comprehensive idea of fine motor skill milestones for infants and children. These examples include (but aren’t limited to):

Reference in image

Why fine motor skills are important? 

From holding a toothbrush in the morning to cooking and eating to putting on clothes to studying and working to enjoying our hobbies, almost all of our everyday tasks require precise movements of the hand.

For a child, fine motor skills are important for doing schoolwork, like drawing and writing. 

What are the different aspects of fine motor skills that require attention?

Grasping and Manipulating Objects: Activities like picking up small toys, stacking blocks, and using tongs or tweezers help strengthen hand muscles and improve coordination.

Hand-Eye Coordination: Hand-eye coordination plays a crucial role in fine motor skill development. Activities such as catching and throwing balls, playing with building blocks, and completing puzzles enhance hand-eye coordination.

Precision and Control: Activities like using scissors to cut along lines, tracing shapes, and threading beads onto a string help children refine their movements and develop greater control over their hands and fingers.

Bilateral Coordination: Explore the concept of bilateral coordination, which involves using both sides of the body together in a coordinated manner. Offer suggestions for activities such as clapping hands, playing with clay or dough using both hands simultaneously, and crawling or climbing to promote bilateral coordination.

Writing Readiness Skills: There is a connection between fine motor skills and readiness for writing. Activities like drawing shapes, practicing pencil grip, and tracing lines and patterns lay the foundation for future writing success by strengthening hand muscles and improving hand control.

Activities That Can Be Done At Home To Develop Fine Motor Skills:

· Playdough Creations: Strengthens hand muscles and encourages creativity through shaping and moulding.

· Stringing Beads: Helps to improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor control by threading beads onto a string.

· Cutting Practice: Enhances hand strength and precision by cutting along lines and shapes with child-safe scissors.

· Finger Painting: Develops dexterity of fingers and sensory exploration by creating artwork using fingers and non-toxic paint.

· Playing with Building Blocks: Fosters fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and problem-solving abilities by stacking and manipulating building materials.


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