Fine motor skills are those movements we make through our small muscles of the hands. Kids start using fine motor skills from the early childhood. They start to grab everything nearby with their tiny hands like they approach towards rattle and try to grab it with the small hands. For holding something in our hands, we should be able to master our fine motor skills. Individual finger movement, good use of thumb and position of wrist joint are the important thing for the fine motor skills. Coordination of fingers, hands and arms plays a vital role in independence in the activities of daily living (ADL). Development of small muscles facilitates proper coordination to perform daily activities of life.
Activities such as eating and dressing, manipulation of toys and other playthings and the use of utensils and tools, are largely dependent upon the coordination of the hands.
Almost all toys and games require the use of hands and arms. These play activities help not only to utilize leisure time properly but also to develop fine motor skills for many day-to-day activities.
If we are not independent in the fine skills, then we need support from other to do the things which are basic and essential for daily life like dressing, washing, grooming, combing.
Generally, a child develops these skills as he grows and learns through his own body, playing with nearby objects or taught by others. If these skills are not up to the mark or delay is observed, he/she should be trained in the fine motor skills.
The kids learn more advanced fine motor skills as their cognitive and social/ emotional skills improve. If a child’s growth is delayed due to any reason, overall delay in fine motor and gross motor skill you will observe. In the case of children with mental/ physical impairments, fine motor development may be delayed or abnormal. If the delay is noticed earlier, professional guidance would help in improving the child in different types of fine motor activities.
Fine Motor Skills Development-
Development of small muscles in a human body starts very early in life.
Gradually the infants begin to :
Grasp objects, Reach for objects, Grasp objects with both hands, Release objects, Transfer objects from one hand to another.
As the child achieves Palmar and finger grasps, holding and transferring objects, he uses these skills in daily activities such as Eating, Brushing Bathing, Dressing, and Toileting.
In addition to self-care skills, child engages in play activities and other household chores such as: making towers using blocks, stringing beads, stacking vessel, turning doorknobs, screwing and unscrewing.
As the child grows older, fine motor skills are used for more complex activities like sorting out objects, using tools- hammer or pliers, wrapping objects, Assembling, Cutting, and Pasting.
What are the reasons for delayed fine motor development ?
Lack of Nutrition – Lack of proper food during pregnancy affects the growth of the baby. This is one of the reasons for low birth weight. The child may get delayed in gross and fine motor delayed.
Premature Birth- the children who are born before completing the full term of pregnancy also may have a chance of delayed fine motor development.
Lack of stimulation – If the child is left without proper care and motivation for movements, the fine motor development may be affected.
Birth Injury – Birth injury due to instrumental delivery and such other reasons can affect the coordination of limbs. It may result in stiffness of joints and may restrict the free movement of the limbs.
Fine motor skills Checklist –
here we provide you some typical developmental milestone for fine motor skills and if you observe the delay in these patterns, contact a nearby occupational therapist for early assessment and intervention. This checklist is basic in nature and may vary with an individual. Click on the download button.
Tips for development of fine motor skills-
Observe the nature of fine skills the child has and note down the wrong pattern the child follows.
Involve him in a play therapy; we can’t be so strict with the kids, it’s better to teach them via play.
Focus on individual muscle action and use of a thumb. Many children with fine motor dysfunction are not able to use their individual action.
Kids experiencing movement or coordination difficulties require more time to learn a skill. They need constant cues and feedback.
It’s always better to intervene early, as the child grows with a faulty pattern, it may become a habit and the child will be reluctant to correct the pattern or skill.
Identify the physical or cognitive problems while performing fine motor activities. Initially, assist the child in the task. It is very important to promote the strength of the child as well as assisting with their difficulties. You can achieve this by choosing some of the activities that you know the child is good at; for example, the child may have difficulties tying his shoelaces, but is good at cutting or pasting papers. So, include cutting or pasting activities in between the different activities to boost up his/her confidence.
Be patient, you can’t teach them in a day or a week, it takes time to develop the muscle and correct pattern. And last but not the least Praise the child’s effort always.
Darrien Hansen says
I didn’t know that children will lack proper fine motor skills if they are not motivated to practice them. My son is left-handed and tends to be clumsy whenever he holds a fork or spoon since his hand muscles are under-developed. Maybe it would be best to find a child care program to help him refine his fine motor skills.
Derek Swain says
Thank you for mentioning how a child’s fine motor skills may be compromised if they are not encouraged to perform certain movements. My son has been having trouble writing his name with a pencil because he cannot hold thin objects without his hands cramping after a short period of time. Maybe occupational therapy could help him improve his handwriting skills before he attends school next year.