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How to Build Fine Motor Skills in Young Children

By Apricus Health

2nd June 2022

Fine motor skills are skills that help children to control their movements and manipulate small objects, such as a pen or pencil, with their hands, arms, and fingers.

They are also important for many other activities, such as writing, drawing, typing, and playing an instrument. Fine motor skills are the building blocks for developing handwriting, hand-eye coordination, and other motor skills.

The fine motor skills of infants can be taught and reinforced through a combination of play, imitation, and repetition. Early learning of these skills is also important for the development of other motor skills in later childhood, such as handwriting and hand-eye coordination. Read through Apricus Health’s guide on how to build fine motor skills in young children.  

How Fine Motor Skills Are Developed 

The development of fine motor skills is influenced by a variety of factors, including the stimulation of the brain regions responsible for motor control. These regions of the brain, including the cerebellum, is hugely involved in the coordination of movements. In order to train the brain to coordinate actions, children must be exposed to a variety of activities that stimulate them, like picking up objects with their hands or tongs and building with blocks. 

Understanding how to build fine motor skills in young children is different throughout their childhood—beginning with simple tasks in infancy, to more complex craft and writing projects in later childhood. 

Why Children May Have Poor Fine Motor Skills 

Children with poor fine motor skills often have limited engagement in the activities that stimulate them. Other things that may cause the development of poor fine motor skills include poor nutrition, lack of stimulating activites, neurological conditions, and perhaps learning disabilities. It is incredibly common for children to have trouble with their fine motor skills at a young age. Still, it is important to remember that parents and caretakers should be aware of the problems that can emerge in later life if these skills are not developed properly.

Children with delays in fine motor skills do not show interest in grasping objects given to them. Often poor fine motor skills manifest themselves as poor hand-eye coordination. Children with poor fine motor skills will struggle with table-based activities like writing, drawing, and using utensils. 

Fine Motor Goals for Pre-Schoolers

The early development of fine motor skills requires multi-tasking, such as learning to open boxes or containers and learning how to use push or pull toys, such as cars, trucks, or a bike. Children who lack fine motor skills are at risk of developing motor problems in the later years of life, such as lack of coordination or developing motor delays.

Teaching pre-schoolers fine motor skills will help children develop better hand-eye coordination later on. But how is this done? The best way to teach children fine motor skills is to use a variety of activities that require equally as diverse skills to practice and become more accustomed to the movements. For example, teaching children how to use scissors is a great way to teach them how to use their hands and fingers to cut. It is also a great way to teach them how to use their hands to manipulate objects. The same goes for toys. Teaching children how to use a toy is a great way to teach them how to use their hands and fingers.

How to Help a Child with Poor Fine Motor Skills

At a young age, helping children with the precision and control of fine motor skills takes a lot of practice. Children with neurological conditions or other developmental delays may have difficulty with their fine motor skills, and even then, this isn’t always evident until their preschool years. Children with poor fine motor skills will often struggle with activities involving letters and shapes. 

Children with poor fine motor skills may need a combination of occupational therapy and physical therapy to help build more control over the muscles in their hands. Continuing to engage in activities that help improve fine motor skills should accompany therapeutic intervention. 

Help With Building Fine Motor Skills in Young Children

Children need a foundation in fine motor skills in order to control their movements, manipulate objects, and keep their hands and arms strong. For parents concerned that their child might be falling behind in their development of fine motor skills, fear not. When it comes to knowing how to build fine motor skills in young children, there are countless activities parents can do with their children to incorporate fine motor skills into a daily routine. 

Apricus Health offer a team of paediatric occupational therapists who can help children with fine motor skills. If your child is experiencing difficulty completing everyday tasks, it could be worth enquiring about how we can help support you and your child. Visit our paediatrics page for more information and to make an email enquiry with our North Queensland team of hand therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.