Helping all children become happy learners

Fine Motor Skills Development

Introduction

Fine motor skills is a term used to describe our ability to coordinate small and accurate movements. It also more specifically refers to the coordination of the small muscles in the hand in conjunction with the eyes. Fine motor skills are necessary for us to do everyday things like grasp and manipulate objects, dress ourselves and write or type.

The chart below gives an approximate guide to fine-motor skill development in childhood. It is important to remember that all children develop at different rates and that the milestones are based on the average child. Some children will develop these skills sooner and some later. It is important that you seek support from a professional if you are concerned about your child's development.

0-3 months 

hands most often remain closed

has involuntary grasp reflex when objects placed in palm

2-4 months

reaches for objects inaccurately

 

3-4 months

clasps hands together often 

begins purposeful, visually directed reaching

3-7 months

can hold small objects in hand

4-8 months

can transfer objects from one hand to the other 

can pick up cube/medium sized object easily

4-10 months

develops accurate forward and side reach

5-9 months

whole hand used to rake or scoop small objects to pick them up

7-9 months

intentionally able to drop/release objects

8-12 months

able to pick up small objects using thumb and finger/fingers 

pokes and/or points with index finger

1-1½ years

holds crayon or pencil with whole hand, thumb up

2 years

holds crayon with whole hand, forearm turned so thumb is down 

puts on shoes, socks, and shorts; takes off shoes and socks 

can use a spoon by himself, keeping it upright 

can draw and copy a vertical line

2½-3 years

strings large beads

snips paper with scissors 

rolls clay/plasticine into "snake" 

can draw and copy a horizontal line

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3-3½ years

able to complete simple puzzles

can build a tower of nine small blocks or more 

only needs help with buttons when getting dressed/undressed 

still confuses front/back for clothes, and right/left for shoes 

can feed himself with little or no spilling

drinks from a cup/glass with one hand

3½-4 years

can pour his own drink from a jug if not too heavy 

able to string small beads 

can hold a pencil with a "tripod grasp" (3 fingers) but still moves forearm and wrist to write/draw/colour

4-4½ years

can use scissors to follow and cut both straight and curved lines 

can manage buttons, zippers, and stud fastenings 

can draw & copy a cross (vertical & horizontal intersecting lines)

4½-5 years

can hold fork using his fingers

can feed himself soup with little or no spilling 

folds paper in half, making sure the edges meet 

puts a key in a lock and opens it

5 years

can get dressed completely by himself, and usually tie shoelaces 

cuts square, triangle, circle, and simple pictures with scissors 

uses a knife to spread jam 

uses a knife to cut soft foods 

able to draw and copy a diagonal line 

uses a 'tripod grasp' (thumb ane tips of first two fingers) and can now write, draw and colour using hand movement only

5½-6 years

can build a five block "bridge" 

sufficient bilateral hand coordination to cut out complex pictures

able to copy a sequence of letters or numbers correctly

6 years

able to complete complex puzzles 

By 6 years the majority of children will have developed their fine motor skills to be able to cope with everyday tasks like dressing & feeding themselves. They have the dexterity & eye-hand coordination to complete writing, art & craft activites. Fine motor ability continues to develop as children refine and practice skills.

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