Fine Motor Skills – Why they Matter and How to help

Fine motor skills in simple terms is being able to use the muscles in our hands and fingers. These motor skills are extremely important for school readiness and for everyday skills.

Children need fine motor skills for:

  • drawing
  • writing
  • cutting
  • getting dressed (buttons, zips and tying laces)
  • craft
  • construction play (lego and blocks)
  • self care (finger foods, opening lunch box or food packet and brushing teeth)
  • accessing technology (using keyboard, stylus and touch screens)
  • LOTS of other activities!

Signs your child might have fine motor difficulties:

  • Avoid and/or not interested in using finger skills (like the tasks listed above)
  • Prefer outdoor/active physical activity (this means they can avoid sit down tasks!)
  • Interest in ‘passive’ entertainment activities such as watching TV or iPad/tablet that don’t require Fine Motor skills
  • Not interested in drawing/cutting
  • Being ‘bossy’ in play and and asking parents/others to “draw a cat for me”
  • Giving up quickly when faced with a challenge (e.g. asking you to fix a problem without physically trying to fix it themselves)
  • Waiting for you to dress them or clean their teeth rather than trying it themselves
  • Refusal or dislike using a stylus with iPad/tablet

How to help your child if they are having trouble with fine motor skills:

  • Encourage frequent short, and fun fine motor activities
  • Try some different play activities like threading, tearing paper, popping bubble wrap, coin/leaf rubbings, drawing outside with chalk or tracing simple pictures of their favourite character
  • Some apps such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja can sometimes be useful for specific fine motor skills but are best to use under advice from an Occupational Therapist.
  • See an Occupational Therapist!

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