Fine Motor Skills

The Importance of Screening Children at an Early Age for Signs of Fine Motor Issues

Many people think kids automatically acquire motor skills like jumping, running and throwing while their bodies are developing. They feel it’s just the “natural process” that children go through along with physical maturation. However, maturation is only one part of the whole scheme. It’s the part that allows children to implement most movement skills at a begging or immature level.

Little hands require strength and dexterity. It’s essential your child develops fine motor skills early in childhood to equip them with the ability to carry out essential tasks correctly and learn to be independent. For instance, an important task for your child to learn is tying shoelaces. However, before they’re able to do this, they have to develop coordination and hand strength.

What Are the Identifiers?

If your child has problems with fine motor skills, they may:

  • Have an immature or awkward pencil grasp for their age.
  • Have slow, messy or laborious coloring, drawing or writing skills.
  • Have difficulty using scissors.
  • Have problems carrying out precise manipulation tasks (threading, buttons, tying shoelaces).

As a parent, you can help them during this process by encouraging them to explore, play and interact with various items.

What Can We Do to Help Our Child?

Below are several activities you can have your child work with to help with their fine motor skills development.

Finger Feeding

Allow your child to finger feed often. This is where they’ll use their fingers to pick up food which helps them develop the pincher grasp, an important precursor to them holding a crayon.

Two-Handed Tasks

Two-hand tasks encourage kids to coordinate both their hands together. This activity is a good tool for development. Rolling play dough from a ball to a long “snake” and using a plastic knife to cut it is an example of a two-handed task.

Play with Small Items

Have your child string beads, stack blocks, play with pop beads or use one-piece puzzles. Remember to not leave your child alone with these small items since they can be a choking hazard.

Each day, keep an eye open for new opportunities to encourage your child to practice small movements, push and pull with their hands and manipulate small items. Giving them these opportunities is the first step to help them develop fine motor skills. Ask your child’s pediatric occupational therapist and teacher if they are concerned with any areas where your child’s fine motor development skills need work.

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