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Fine Motor Developmental Skills

Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles of the hands and wrists. The coordination of these small muscles are required for small movements like cutting, writing, opening water bottles, tying shoes, etc. Young children benefit from daily practice to help develop fine motor skills in their hands and fingers. Efficient fine motor skills require a number of independent skills to work together to appropriately manipulate the object or perform the task. Strengthening these skills are important because they directly impact how well a school aged child can write as well as increases their stamina for writing. 

Fine motor skills include but not limited to:

  • Pencil skills (scribbling, coloring, drawing, and writing) 
  • Scissor skills (cutting on a paper in half, cutting on a line, cutting shapes)
  • Self care skills (tying shoelaces, fasteners, using utensils, opening containers, brushing teeth, brushing hair, toileting). 
  • Play skills (building blocks or Legos, puzzles) 
  • String beads or lacing
  • Turning pages in a book

Fine motor skills are essential for performing everyday and academic skills. Without the ability to complete these everyday tasks, a child’s self esteem can suffer, their academic performance is compromised and their play options are very limited. They are also unable to develop appropriate independence in ‘life’ skills (such as getting dressed and feeding themselves) which in turn has social implications not only within the family but also within peer relationships.

How can you tell your child has fine motor difficulties at a glance?

  • Preferring physical activity (to avoid sit down tasks).
  • Interest in ‘passive’ activities such as watching TV that don’t require fine motor skills.
  • No interest in pencil or scissors skills.
  • Being ‘bossy’ in play and asking others to  “draw a cat for me”.
  • Not persisting in the face of a challenge (e.g. asking parents to fix a problem without physically trying to fix it themselves).
  • Waiting for parents to dress them or clean their teeth rather than trying themselves.
  • Refusal to use stylus with the IPAD.
  • Activities of Daily Living

Activities of daily living (ADL’s) are activities related to personal care. They include bathing or showering, dressing, toileting, eating, grooming and hygiene are among the most common skills addressed in Occupational Therapy. These skills may be compromised for a variety of reasons such as a physical impairment, cognitive impairment, or sensory processing disorder. Occupational therapist’s can provide a variety of techniques or adaptive devices to assist the child in learning these skills in order to become more independent.