What Are Fine Motor Skills?

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What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills generally refer to one's ability to control the small movements of the hands and fingers, as well as the small muscles of the face and mouth (tongue) and feet.

However, when teachers and therapists use the term, they are usually only referring to the small muscles in the hands and fingers.

Why Are Fine Motor Skills So Important?

tying shoelaces

In the preschool years, being able to color with crayons, cut with scissors, paint with a paintbrush and play with small objects such as lego, beads and puzzles, are integral to your child’s development. Your child needs to use the hand and finger muscles accurately in order to keep up with peers in these activities.

Self care activities such as tying shoelaces and using a knife and fork to eat food, all require a degree of fine motor control. Children who struggle with any of these activities often feel frustrated and their self-esteem suffers when they can’t keep up with their peers.

Once formal schooling starts, good control of the hand muscles will enable the child to learn handwriting with a minimum of effort. Many bright children falter in the early years because their great difficulty with pencil control holds them back from showing what they are really capable of.

We know that children who struggle in the early years of school often end up with a negative attitude to learning and don’t live up to their potential in school. And none of us want that experience for our kids!

poor pencil gripIncorrect Pencil Grasp

When your child has to concentrate on just trying to hold a pencil, as the child in this picture has to, there is less brain power to devote to actually learning the work! When a child can write freely and easily, it is easier for him/her to concentrate on writing a great essay, or on answering the exam questions.

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How Can I Help My Child's Fine Motor Development?

lego fine motor activity

These skills do not develop in isolation from other skills. As with all areas of child development, a lag or delay in one area can impact on other areas of development.

If your child has experienced birth trauma, serious illnesses, physical deprivation or emotional trauma, he or she may be at risk for a delay in fine motor development as well as other skill development.

If you are in any way concerned about your child's development, please speak to your health professional as soon as possible!

In order for the small motor skills of the hand to develop normally, there are four Essential Bases that need to be in place.

Poor core stability, weak shoulder girdle muscles, weak hand muscles, and poor coordination skills can all impact on your child's ability to use the hand and finger muscles effectively.

This article on Fine Motor Development will help you to understand the importance of those essential bases and will also direct you to some fun learning activities to do with your child to help cover every base.

If you are looking for ways to help your child's fine motor development, then check out the scissor cutting activities and fine motor activities available for free on my site.

But if you are short of time, and want all the activities and information in an accessible format, then check out my downloadable OT Mom e-books! For the price of a cheap coffee or two, you can have great photographed activities at your fingertips!

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