Fine Motor Skill Development

Motor skills relate to movements and actions performed by muscles. There are two categories of motor skill: fine motor skill and gross motor skill. Fine motor skill involves the coordination and synchronization of small muscle movements, particularly in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet, and toes. Such movements allow for actions such as writing, grasping objects, and blinking. The development of basic fine motor skills begins at infancy, with mastery occurring between the ages of six and 12. These skills range from reaching and grasping objects, to pointing fingers, to scribbling, to pushing levers, to tying shoelaces. Because fine motor skills play such a crucial role in a child’s ability to understand and interact with his or her surroundings, it is important to monitor each child’s development of these skills and introduce interventions—such as occupational therapy—if a child falls behind. Research has shown that children with delayed fine motor skill development demonstrate improvement with participation in weekly occupational therapy sessions. Lags in development may occur as a result of injury, illness, congenital conditions, developmental disabilities, stroke, and cerebral palsy. Children with fine motor skill development delays may have difficulty coordinating body movements or performing tasks such as drawing, writing, cutting with scissors, fastening buttons, or zipping zippers.