Fine Motor Milestones

When looking at development, keep in mind that milestones should be considered a guideline.  Just as some toddlers are ready to speak earlier than others, fine motor skills vary from child to child.  Plus, readiness to develop fine motor skills depends on a child's interests. A child who loves books may excel at reading at a young age, but may struggle to work fasteners on clothing. Developmental milestones are considered to be a general guide to help us monitor a child's growth and maturity. 

 
 

Pincer Grasp

 "Stages, not Ages", is a great way to look at any types of milestones!

Just as some toddlers are ready for potty training earlier than others, fine motor skills vary from child to child.  Plus, readiness to develop fine motor skills depends on a child's interests. A child who loves books may 

A pincer grasp is seen when the thumb and first two fingers  meet. As grasp matures, we develop an “open web space” (see picture to the left). Do you see how thumb and forefinger make a circle? This enables kids to easily straighten and bend fingers. A “closed web space” inhibits finger movement.
     Pincer grasp can be improved through any activities that encourage a child to hold small objects between her thumb and fingers. Suggestions include tearing paper, playing with Unifix cubes, Lego, K'Nex, stringing Cheerios, and writing with short crayon pieces to promote an “open web space”.

 

Hand Strength

 "Stages, not Ages", is a great way to look at any types of milestones!

Just as some toddlers are ready for potty training earlier than others, fine motor skills vary from child to child.  Plus, readiness to develop fine motor skills depends on a child's interests. A child who loves books may 

Did you know that the “pinky” side of the hand and the “thumb” side of the hand play different roles? The “pinky” or “ulnar” side provides strength. (Can you feel that large muscle on the outside of the hand?) The “thumb” side or “radial” side specializes in dexterity. Developing hand strength in the ”pinky” side is crucial for many academic and daily life tasks.

     Hand strength in children can improve through daily participation in a variety of fine motor activities. These include opening and closing containers and Ziploc bags, pulling on and off socks and shoes, learning to cut with scissors, and squeezing sponges or wringing washcloths during water play.

Bilateral Coordination

 

     Using two hands together is key for success in a child's many daily tasks such as learning to tie shoes, buttoning and zipping, and opening and closing food containers. It is also class activities as children grow older as when placing worksheets in a folder, holding a piece of paper with one hand while writing, or using a pencil and ruler to draw lines.

     As kids get older, difficulty with bimanual skills can translate into difficulty with tasks at both home and school. Participating in daily two-handed activities can help children improve bilateral coordination. 

  Using two hands together is important for many daily tasks throughout childhood such as learning to tie shoes, buttoning and zipping, and managing containers during lunchtime at school. It is an important skill during classroom activities as when placing worksheets in a folder, holding a piece of paper with one hand while writing, and using a pencil and ruler to draw a line.

As kids get older, difficulty with bimanual skills can translate into difficulty with school. Encouraging children to engage in two-handed tasks daily helps to improve this area of fine motor skill.

 

Tactile Perception

Children develop hand skills through interacting with objects in their environments. Picking up a pompom is very different from picking up a large rock. A child uses a light touch and barely any shoulder movement for the pompom. Whereas, she uses a strong grasp and plenty of shoulder strength to lift a rock.

We can to provide children with a variety of daily tactile and proprioceptive experiences to help them master the force needed to hold an object and to adjust and accommodate to different sensory experiences. Many fine motor and craft activities offer tactile experiences with glue, finger paint, sand, or chalk.

 

Shoulder Stability/

Reaching

 In order to have good fine motor control, the shoulder must be stable and a child must have adequate upper body strength. Think about it: If a child has trouble sitting up straight or if he cannot hold his shoulder and arm still, then he cannot cut carefully on a line or accurately place pegs in a pegboard. Activities to build shoulder strength are key  to developing fine motor skill. 

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