Monday, February 22, 2016

Fine Motor Skills and why we should be incorporating them everyday

Our fine motor skills are the skills we use daily, but don’t think about. They are in use when we get dressed, do the dishes, tie our shoelaces, type an email, draw a picture, even eat food or a simple smile, and that conversation you had with your child? Well there are fine motor skills there as well. So, what exactly are they?

Most people know that they involve the small muscles in your hand, while few people realise it involves the small muscle movements in your face as well – your mouth, tongue and lips, as well as your feet.

Fine motor skills sometimes need a little help to develop. There are plenty of activities available on the internet for parents and teachers to have a look at, but many do not look at the implications of using fine motor skills, and why they need to be developed properly. Let’s have a look at typical development and how these skills develop naturally.

Fine Motor Development Skills by Age
0-6 Months
·      Reflexive grasp – this should be present at birth
·      Uncontrolled or Involuntary Reaching for objects
·       Voluntary grasp
·       Using 2 hands to grasp something (whole hands, also known as the 2 handed palmar grasp)
·       By 5 months, a 1 handed palmar grasp
·         Controlled reach by 5 months
6-12 Months
·         Reaches and grasps objects, puts them into their mouth
·         Able to release objects in a controlled manner
·         Development of the pincer grasp – using the forefinger and thumb to pick up small items
·         Moves items from one hand to the other hand
·         Is dropping and picking up toys
1-2 Years
·         Building a tower of 3 or more blocks
·         Can put pegs into a pegboard
·         Turning the pages in a book
·         Scribbling
·         Paints with whole arm movement
·         Beginning to feed themselves
·         Can hold and drink from cup independently
2-3 Years
·         Beginning to thread using large beads
·         Can now turn single pages in a book
·         Starting to cut with scissors
·         Can hold a crayon, not using the fist grip
·         Beginning to use dominant hand more and more
·         Uses wrist action to paint – no longer whole arm movement
·         Can roll and pull playdough
·         Can now eat without assistance
3-4 Years
·         Now able to build a tower with 9 blocks
·         Can copy a circle and a cross
·         Can make simple items with playdough – rolling into a snake
·         Uses the non-dominant hand to help
4-5 Years
·         Can cut on a line continuously
·         Copies a cross and a square
·         Can write their own name
·         Writes number 1-5
·         Able to copy letters
·         Established dominant hand
·         Can get dressed and undressed independently
5-6 Years
·         Can cut out simple shapes
·         Can copy a triangle
·         Can also colour in between the lines
·         Is able to hold a pencil with the tripod grip – thumb, forefinger and index finger
·         Can glue paper
·         Able to draw a basic picture
6-7 Years
·         Able to form most letters and numbers
·         Can write on the line
·         Has control over pencil movements
·         Able to build Lego or similar building blocks
·         Can tie own shoelaces

Not only do these motor skills help us eventually with writing and tying our own shoelaces, they also have an impact on our cognitive functioning.
Our motor movements have been found, with the use of neuroimaging techniques, to be linked to the cognition centres of the brain. Fine motor skills have been found to be a strong indicator of later cognitive ability, particularly reading and math skills.

This is why they are important skills to develop, and when we see them lacking we need to help out. To help you out, we have developed a fine motor checklist with activities to help identify if there is a gap in the development process.