Frequently Asked Questions about Fine Motor Skills for Children Ages 4 to 6 Years

 

I've included important information on fine motor skills below. If you have a specific question about your student's or young child's fine motor skills, please contact me.

What are fine motor skills?

​Fine motor skills are the small coordinated movements and actions of the hand and arm which are essential for the performance of everyday tasks such as fastening buttons and shoes, using cutlery, cutting with scissors, colouring, drawing and handwriting, and using computers and tablets.

 

Why are good fine motor skills important for school readiness?

​Good fine motor skills are important as students spend up to 60% of their school day engaged in fine motor tasks. Studies have shown that good fine motor skills are an important predictor of later academic success. For example, children with good fine motor skills at age five, when tested three years later, performed significantly better than their peers in reading and math. There are strong links between skillfully manipulating objects with the fingers, handwriting, and the development of attention needed for learning at school.

 

What are some key foundations for the development of good fine motor skills?

​Spending time in active, outdoor play is vital for developing children’s core and upper body strength, helping them to sit well and supporting the skilled use of their hands. Sand, water and messy play activities develop their tactile discrimination, enabling them to handle objects with the correct force and skill. Playing with real objects and materials like Lego and play dough builds their hand and finger strength which is the first step towards the coordinated use of tools such as crayons, pencil and scissors.

 

How do you improve a child’s fine motor skills?

​Firstly, make sure you address the underlying foundations. I devote a lot of time to this in my Fantastic Fingers Program with online videos and eBook called Songs & Games for Fantastic Fingers®. Secondly, become familiar with what fine motor skills are expected for their age. Then identify where they are at in terms of their development and ability. Start by selecting one or two specific skills to work on at a time, and practice these targeted skills in a fun way on a regular basis. 

 

What is the impact of technology on children’s fine and gross motor skills?

​In general, the over-use of technology is having a very negative impact on children’s motor development. Today, more 

children are less fit, overweight and less well coordinated. Technology has a displacement effect resulting in less time for traditional manipulative hands-on play with blocks, puzzles, beads and wax crayons. As a result a lot more children now have fine motor issues hindering their learning in the classroom.

 

Should today's students be taught to print by hand and practise handwriting?

​The brain-body connection is very complex. Study after study shows that handwriting is important for brain development including attention, short-term memory, language and reading ability. Researchers have found that writing by hand develops higher thinking areas of the brain with similar benefits for brain development as learning a foreign language. Simply put handwriting makes our children smarter.