Efficient fine motor skills require a number of independent skills to work together to appropriately manipulate the object or perform the task. Fine motor skills develop after gross motor skills, like throwing and kicking balls, as well as walking and jumping. Mastery of fine motor skills requires precision and coordination. Visual perception is not strictly a fine motor skill but directly supports fine motor skill performance.
Fine motor skills include:
- Pencil skills – scribbling, coloring, drawing, writing.
- Scissor skills – cutting
- Construction skills – Lego
- Self-care – tying shoelaces, opening lunch boxes, cleaning teeth.
Given below is the development of fine motor skills from birth to age three:
- 0 to 4 MonthsBetween 0 to 4 months baby can move his/her arms and hands to bat at objects or visual stimuli. Both the right and left arms are used. The baby has the ability to move his/her eyes and head in a coordinated manner from side to side. This skill is required for the baby to further develop his/her fine motor skills. Around 2 to 3 months the baby will begin to reach for objects and hold on to it. His/her grasp is reflexive at this age.
- 4 to 12 months
During this period the baby will gain more control over his/her arms and progress from reaching with both hands to reaching with one hand. By about 6 months, the baby will be able to pick up small objects and hold them between his/her thumb and index finger. S/he will also be able to transfer objects from one hand to the other and be able to release objects from his/her grasp. His/her visual skills continue developing during this stage. During play at 12 months, the child will make marks with crayons and markers, stack rings and blocks, turn pages and roll a ball.
- 1 to 2 yearsThe child’s sitting balance and trunk control will improve to the point that the child will no longer use his/ her arms for support.
As the child approaches 2 years of age, his/her hand preference begins to emerge but it is not quite established. The child should progress from circular scribble to either horizontal or vertical scribble.
- 2 to 3 yearsDuring this stage, the child’s balance and trunk stability should allow the child to maintain his/her posture when s/he reaches or shifts his/her weight to one side. Hand dominance will continue to emerge but not yet established. By 3 years, the child should be able to snip paper with scissors on one hand and eventually cut a piece of paper into two pieces.
Two popular terms that are associated with learning about fine motor skills in children are first grip and pincer grip. The first grip is when children use their whole hand and wrap it around a pencil to write and a pincer grip refers to the pinching muscles. Eventually, most children learn to use a pencil with their thumb and one or two fingers, which indicates that they have developed the pincer grip.