Fine Motor Skills

All infants move through specific stages of development that integrate two basic categories of movement that are essential for one’s survival. This distinct set of skills is referred to as Motor Skills are actions that involve the movement of body muscles. Motor skills are further categorized into two groups:

  1. Gross Motor skills: movements or actions that involve the movement of larger body muscles like legs, arms, feet, and actions of the entire body (jumping, running, crawling). 
  2. Fine Motor skills: these motor skills encompass movements or actions that involve smaller muscles like grasping, holding, and tasting. 

 Most of us consider doing simple tasks like dialing numbers on a phone or gripping a pencil as nothing more than day-to-day activities. But what we do not realize is that performing these activities involves the coordination and synchronization of small muscles with the movement of the eyes. These simple activities or tasks are termed as dexterity or Fine Motor skills that contribute to the growth of intelligence and cognitive development, which continues through several stages of human development. 

While both Gross Motor Skills and Fine Motor Skills are essential for promoting the infant to become independent, Fine Motor Skills are absolutely crucial for performing tasks that involve self-care. 

Fine Motor skills are an integral aspect of one’s overall physical and cognitive development. These vital skills can be enhanced and strengthened by practicing basic activities, here is everything one should know about Fine Motor Skills. 

What are Fine Motor Skills? 

Fine Motor skills refer to the ability to make deliberate and precise movements with small muscles situated in the hands, writs, and fingers while coordinating eye movements. These Movements are different from Gross Motor Skills and are important for activities like academic work, self-care, hygiene, and grooming. 

Why is Fine Motor Skill Development important?

Fine Motor skills are activities that involve dexterity and refined use of smaller muscles that control the movement of hands, fingers, and wrists. These skills are integral for aspects like academics, self-care, hygiene. Simple activities like writing, buttoning, unbuttoning, gripping, feeding oneself requires fine motor skills.  

When the Fine Motor Skills are underdeveloped in the child, they might feel incompetent while performing age-appropriate tasks that might set them back. Developing hands of your younger ones require dexterity and strength. It is the immediate caregiver’s responsibility to provide children with appropriate activities that strengthen and develop Fine Motor Skills to help them achieve future attainments. 

Here are some activities that involve Fine Motor Skills:

  • Holding a pen or pencil
  • Drawing
  • Typing or using a keyboard
  • Using rulers, scissors, and other equipment.

The child must develop Fine Motor Skills to perform everyday tasks with any adult assistance. It is important to develop Fine Motor Skills in children to help them achieve academic attainments. 

Examples of Fine Motor Skills:

Fine Motor Skills require coordination between the nervous system and the smaller muscles. Some children develop fine motor skills on their own during the early stages of development and other take activities to enhance as well as strengthen these Fine Motor Skills. Here are some examples of Fine Motor Skills based on activities and tasks:

  1. Fine Motor Skills For Academics:
    Fine Motor Skills are extremely important for academic attributes. 
    • Turning Pages
    • Coloring
    • Drawing
    • Writing
    • Holding a Pencil
    • Cutting with scissors
    • Tracing
    • Measuring with a ruler
    • Typing on a keyboard
    • Using a Mouse
    • Playing Instruments
    • Arts and Crafts
  1. Fine Motor Skills For Self-care:
    • Bathing or Showering
    • Buttoning and Unbuttoning
    • Fastening buckles
    • Brushing Teeth and Flossing
    • Using the Toilet
    • Turing doorknobs
    • Opening Locks and Keys
    • Using Zippers
    • Dailing the Phone
    • Wearing clothes
    • Tying shoelaces
  1. Fine Motor Skills For Cooking and Eating: 
    • Picking up small foods
    • Spreading condiments on toast
    • Using spoons, forks, and other utensils 
    • Setting up a table
    • Sprinkling salt 
    • Pouring Liquids
    • Scrubbing and peeling fruits and vegetables
    • Opening and closing containers
    • Mixing, Stirring and whisking
  1. Fine Motor Skills For Playtime:
    • Dressing dolls
    • Puzzles games
    • Board games( rolling dice, maneuvering pieces)
    • Video Games( using gaming console, using keyboard keys)
    • Stacking Blocks
    • Shaking Rattles
    • Playing with Modeling Clay

What are the Milestones of Fine Motor Skill Development?

The Development of Fine Motor Skills occurs naturally in children, but the rate of the development of these skills can vary in each individual. Having a timeline incorporating the major milestones in terms of Fine Motor Skills can help the Parents and immediate caregivers determine whether their child is performing age-appropriate fine Motor Activities.

Birth to 1 year:

In the period between birth to 1 year of age, the baby begins to develop several fine motor skills. 

  • Between 0 to 3 months the infant is able to grasp a rattle, put their hands to their mouth, and their hands become more relaxed.
  • Between 3 to 6 months the infant begins to hold their hands together, move toys from one hand to another, and deliberately hold or shake the toys. 
  • Between 6 to 9 months the infants begin to, grab objects, squeeze objects with both hands, grasps objects with both of their hands, use the index finger to touch or point towards things, and deliberately clap their hands. 
  • Between 9 months to 1 year, the infant is capable of feeding themselves food by using their fingers, grabbing small objects from the thumb and index finger, deliberately banging objects together, and holding toys with just one hand.

1 to 2 years:

  • Build towers from building blocks
  • Scribble on a piece of paper
  • Stack objects
  • Turn one page one at a time
  • Hold writing or drawing equipment with a pincer grip
  • Eat with utensils (most preferably a spoon)

2 to 3 years:

  • Turn Doorknobs
  • Washing their hands unassisted 
  • Manipulate the zipper
  • Using Eating Utensils Properly
  • Remove and place lids from containers
  • String beads on a thread

3 to 4 years:

  • Button unbutton clothing items
  • Use scissors to cut 
  • Trace
  • Draw

4 to 5 years: 

  • Copy a square on a piece of paper
  • Draw
  • Effectively use a pencil using a pincer grip
  • Color between the lines
  • Wash and dry their hands

Activities To develop Fine Motor Skills:

The Development of Fine Motor Skills in developing children is integral for making the child self-reliant and independent. The child begins to develop enhanced by performing daily activities that involve grasping, holding, or gripping objects. As the child grows older they become capable of performing more complex and advanced activities involving Fine Motor Skills. In cases where the child is unable to perform certain age-appropriate activities that require fine motor skills, practicing the following activities can help strengthen and enhance fine motor skills. 

  • Play with Modeling Clay or Playdough
  • Finger Painting
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Playing with Sponges
  • Gardening and planting
  • Let the child set the dinner Table
  • Placing elastic bands around a cylindrical object
  • Placing an object in a container and asking the child to take it out with the help of tongs or tweezers
  • Let the child use a hole puncher
  • Pouring activities 
  • Allow the child to participate in food preparation
  • Rolling a dice
  • Stirring, mixing, and whisking activities

When should one contact a Doctor?

Although children develop fine motor skills at different rates, they can face problems with fine motor skills at any age for different reasons.  It is best to contact a doctor or a pediatrician when you notice the following signs:

  • Dropping items 
  • The Child cannot tie shoelaces
  • Unable to hold items
  • Trouble in writing, drawing, or coloring.