What are Fine Motor Skills?
So what are fine motor skills? – They’re simply the skills which involve the smaller muscles of the hand, wrist and fingers.
Fine motor skills are used in actions which require precision – like holding and guiding a pencil whilst drawing, cutting accurately with scissors, and being able to successfully pick up a puzzle piece and place it where you want it to go.
Strong fine motor skills allow children to perform these kinds of tasks faster and more accurately than they’d be able to if their skills were not as well developed.
Some Examples of Fine Motor Skills
Here are some important fine motor skills that help children to control their hands and fingers (you could say many of them go hand in hand):
- Hand and finger strength – being able to curl their fingers and grasp objects securely
- Bilateral coordination – the ability to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time. For example, holding the page with one hand whilst writing with the other.
- Hand-eye coordination – to be able to understand what they are seeing and get their hands to go where they want them to go
- Crossing the mid-line – the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms or legs reaching the opposite side. For example, being able to draw a horizontal line across a page without having to switch hands in the middle (something lots of children find very tricky at first).
- Spatial awareness – understanding their place in space in relation to other objects.
Why Are Fine Motor Skills Important For Children?
So now we know what fine motor skills are, it’s important to think about how children use them and why they matter in the real world.
Fine motor skills help with activities like:
- Picking up small things
- Holding a pencil correctly
- Cutting with scissors
- Playing with small toys and puzzles
- Building with blocks
- Doing up a zip or buttons
- Using cutlery
- Opening and closing clasps
Although these may seem simple on their own, they can help with a range of everyday activities and provide a strong foundation for other skills to be built upon (just like the blocks in this picture).
Being able to hold a pencil correctly, and having the hand strength and coordination to use one, will obviously help them to get better at writing and drawing!
If your child is able to do up their zipper, then they’re one step closer to being able to independently dress themselves.
If they can successfully open fiddly clasps then they can open their lunch box at school without having to put their hand up and ask for help.
If they can carefully pick things up and place them where they want them to go, they’ll be able to count out money at the local shop (providing they also have great counting skills as well that is).
Developing fine motor skills, allows children to complete tasks faster and usually with a better end result (think cutting something out neatly or writing their name). This will lead to a greater sense of accomplishment and boost their self esteem and confidence.
Researchers have found that ‘fine motor skills are a very strong and consistent predictor of later achievement’, especially when combined with strong early reading and math skills.
Another study found that fine motor skills contributed to kindergarten readiness – that a child’s fine motor ability was closely linked to their achievement in kindergarten assessments and that it also predicted their ability to improve whilst in kindergarten.
So I think it’s fair to say developing fine motor skills is an important focus for young children!
And if you’d like to help develop your little one’s fine motor skills at home,
Here’s Some Printable Activities That Can Help Your Children Develop Fine Motor Skills
Pretty much all of my printables will help develop fine motor skills in some way.
Most involve picking small things up and placing them carefully somewhere else.
These ‘build-a’ characters are great for developing a child’s pincer grip and hand control as well as cutting skills if they’re ready to have a go:
These trace the line worksheets are a lovely way to develop pencil control and hand-eye coordination:
Playdough is brilliant and has loads of benefits, and this playdough counting mat can give your children a super chance to develop some hand strength:
And here’s an easy no cook playdough recipe you can make at home if you fancy – great for developing hand strength and dexterity:
What are Fine Motor Skills? – A Summary
So in answer to the question ‘what are fine motor skills?’, they are simply the small, precise movements that use the hand and finger muscles.
Fine motor skills are important for all sorts of activities that children do, from writing and cutting, to getting themselves dressed and using cutlery whilst eating.
They allow your children to have better independence and give them a great confidence boost when they realize that they are able to successfully complete tasks on their own.
They also act as a great foundation for many more skills to be built upon!
Until next time,
Let’s nurture those neurons!
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References And Further ReadingClick here for references