Fine-motor skills are essential for activities that your child will engage in daily, such as eating, dressing herself and writing, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. These skills involve intricate movements and include eye-hand coordination and dexterity. As your child grows from a reflex-bound newborn into an older child who makes purposeful movements, she will develop new and more complex fine-motor skills.
During the first year of life, your baby's fine-motor skills are growing at a rapid pace. Although he won't have the ability to write his name or draw a portrait, by 12 months of age, your infant will have the ability, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, to use a pincer grasp, try scribbling with a crayon or other writing tool, poke an object with his index finger, drop toys and other items on purpose and put objects in and take them out of a container.
As your child enters the toddler years, she will refine her fine-motor abilities. While these aren't as sophisticated as an older child yet, your little learner is developing the skills that will help her become independent. For example, the child development experts at the Healthy Children website note that by 2 years of age, most children have the dexterity and coordination to take off their shoes, unzip a jacket that has a large-sized zipper, drink from a cup and turn the pages of a book. While playing, your toddler is now able to stack a tower of blocks and make purposeful marks when drawing with a crayon.
Preschoolers are developing a more sophisticated way of using their small-motor movements, and have the ability to tackle more intricate tasks such as closing a zipper on pants or holding a writing utensil in an almost adult-like way with a thumb on one side and the rest of the fingers on the other. While your preschooler might still make a mess at times, he now has the fine-motor control to pour liquids from one container to another and feed himself -- with utensils -- by himself. Other markers of preschool fine-motor development to look for include using kids' safety scissors correctly, writing some letters of the alphabet, drawing more realistic pictures and putting together puzzles.
In grade school, your child's fine-motor skills are strong enough to help her to act completely independently in terms of dressing and feeding herself. Additionally, she will have the coordination to act more athletically and catch a smaller ball such as a baseball or dribble a basketball. Other fine-motor developments that you will see in your child during the elementary years include the ability to open and close buttons, tie a knot and bow or tie her shoe laces, print words in the early grade school years, write in cursive in the later grade school years and draw using small details.
- Healthy Children: Developmental Milestones: 12 Months
- NAEYC for Families: Help Your Child Build Fine Motor Skills
- Healthy Children: Hand and Finger Skills: 2 Year Olds
- Healthy Children: Hand and Finger Skills of Your Preschooler
- PBS Parents: Physical Health: 7 to 8
- Smart First Graders: Fine Motor Skills in First Grade: Cutting, Writing, and Other Intricate Little Tasks
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