What Means Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills are the ability to use the small muscles of our hands, fingers and wrists to do activities. For example: writing, typing, cutting with scissors and eating using utensils all involve fine motor skills.
By their first birthday most children are able to stack 2 blocks, pick up a small object using the tips of their index finger and thumb (known as a pincer grasp). Then, hold an object with one hand and manipulate the object using the other hand.
Last but not least, release an object into a small container with precision, and turn the pages of a board book.
This post will outline the typical progression of fine motor skill development between the ages of 1 year and 2 years.
First Motor Skills Milestone:
Between the ages of 13-15 months – children will begin scribbling with a marker or crayon using a fisted grasp with their pinky finger near the tip. They will be able to place large pegs into a peg board.
They will feed themselves using their fingers and will start using a spoon (however this will be messy). They will hold and drink from a regular cup (however they will spill often). They will be able to pull off easily removable clothing such as a hat, mitts and socks.
Second Motor Skills Milestone:
Between the ages of 16-18 months – children will begin stringing large beads and turning the pages of a regular book with thin pages (however they may turn several pages at once).
They will be able to build a tower containing 3-4 blocks. They will begin holding a crayon or marker using a more mature grasp with their palm facing down towards the paper, the marker lying across their palm, and their index finger and thumb near the tip.
They will scribble using vertical and horizontal strokes. At this age children will help to wash their hands and will start putting on their hat.
Third Motor Skills Milestone:
Between the ages of 19-12 months – children will be able to turn one page at a time in regular book. They will build a tower containing 4-6 blocks. When colouring they will begin to make circular scribbles. They will be able to wash their hands independently, unzip a large zipper, and take off their shoes.
Fourth Motor Skills Milestone:
Between 22 months and their second birthday – Children will be able to string small beads and turn a knob to open a door. They will be able to imitate drawing vertical lines (watch a parent do it and then do it themselves).
They will be able to pour water from one container into another. To avoid making a mess this activity can be practiced at a water table, in a kiddie pool, or in the bathtub.
Children will be able to pull down unfastened pants for toileting or dressing. During meals they will use a spoon and cup without spills and will begin to use a fork.
How Occupational Therapy Can Help With Motor Skills?
A pediatric occupational therapist specializes on treatment for children and youth (from birth to 25 years of age) who have experienced injuries or challenges that limit their ability to participate in self-care, leisure, school or work activities.
Children see occupational therapists for a variety of reasons including:
1) Delays in fine motor skills: which affect their ability to grasp and release toys, hold a pencil functionally, cut with scissors, and develop good handwriting skills.
2) Help with learning basic self-care tasks: such as getting dressed, tying shoes, washing hands, and feeding themselves.
3) Difficulty with hand-eye coordination (aka visual-motor integration): which affects their ability to catch a ball, throw at a target, copy from the blackboard, draw shapes and print letters.
4) Difficulty with self-regulation: which affects a child’s ability to calm down their body or mind in order to focus on schoolwork or completing a task.
5) Difficulty with social skills: including taking turns with friends or dealing with conflicts that arise with peers.
6) Challenges with sensory integration: when a child has a difficult time receiving and responding to information from their senses. Children may experience hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to different sensations. Children who experience hypersensitivity often find their environment too loud or too bright.
Children don’t like to just sit in therapy, so occupational therapists strive to make therapy sessions feel like play. By participating in motivating activities such as games, crafts, and obstacle courses, children are developing skills while having fun!
Occupational therapists help children develop these necessary physical, cognitive, and sensory skills so they can perform daily tasks more independently. However, at times, a pediatric physiotherapist might get involved to complement some of the motor skills development.
If you have concerns about your child’s fine motor development, feel free to call Pillars of Wellness in Burlington, Ontario. We offer 15 minutes FREE Consultation!