The Foundation Of Fine Motor Skills

The Foundation Of Fine Motor Skills | New Horizons Wellness Services Speech Therapy Clinic Pediatric Therapy Adult Therapy Portland Tigard Oregon

Motor skills refer to the ways in which you move your body to perform specific tasks.

Motor skills are divided into two different types.

There are gross motor skills, which involve larger muscles in your body, and fine motor skills, which involve smaller movements in your hands and wrists.

Today we’re going to be specifically talking about the foundation of fine motor skills.

Not developing your fine motor skills may lead to difficulties learning and performing new, and more detailed, tasks later on.

At New Horizons Wellness Services we offer pediatric occupational therapy treatment that can help your child develop their fine motor skills.

If your child is struggling, a Portland pediatric occupational therapist is a great resource for helping your child build fine motor skills.

Let’s explore what fine motor skills are and why it’s important to build a good foundation with these sets of skills.

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills involve coordinating your hands and wrist to make small detailed movements.

It’s important to develop these skills in order to accomplish a variety of tasks and create a foundation that allows you to learn and build new skills.

As children grow up, they gain more control over their bodies and over the small muscles in their hands and wrists.

This allows them to perform numerous tasks that contribute to their physical development and their learning development.

Some activities that involve the use of fine motor skills include:

  • Holding a pencil
  • Handwriting and drawing
  • Painting
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Unlocking a door
  • Using scissors
  • Tying your shoelaces
  • Turning book pages
  • Closing and opening zippers
  • Picking up small items
  • Typing on a computer
  • Dialing a number on a phone
  • Playing with toys
  • Using utensils
  • And many more

Delays in fine motor skills can happen for a number of reasons.

Sometimes it’s independent factors, other times it can be associated with conditions such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and sensory processing disorder.

The Foundations Of Fine Motor Skills?

Now that we have an understanding of what fine motor skills are, we can explore fine motor skills development.

In order to perform the tasks listed above and allow your child to further develop their fine motor skills, they need to establish a foundation that will allow them to do so.

Let’s take a look at four essential foundations for the development of fine motor skills.

1. Core Strength And Stability

Developing core strength and stability allows your child to more easily control the small muscles in the hands and wrists.

Core strength and stability come from having a strong and stable trunk and shoulder girdle.

When children lack strength in their shoulder girdle and trunk, they may hold onto objects too tightly.

This can cause decreased stability and precision in their movements.

It also requires a lot more effort and can lead to them over exerting themselves and feeling tired.

Building up their core strength and stability allows them to expand and have more control of their fine motor skills.

A pediatric occupational therapist can help your child to develop their core and shoulder strength.

2. Tactile Awareness

Tactile awareness refers to the information you gather through using your fingers to touch things.

When children have underdeveloped tactile awareness, it can make it difficult to control objects with their hands.

This can interfere with their fine motor skills development since their brain isn’t properly processing information about what they’re touching.

Having that mind body connection allows the brain to help guide the hands to perform precise tasks.

Some issues that can occur with lack of tactile awareness include gripping things too hard and regularly dropping things.

This can also affect things like handwriting speed and legibility.

Encouraging your child to use their hands to play and touch things with different sensations can help them develop their tactile awareness.

What Are Fine Motor Skills? | New Horizons Wellness Services Speech Therapy Clinic Pediatric Therapy Adult Therapy Portland Tigard Oregon

3. Hand Strength And Dexterity

Because fine motor skills revolve around using the muscles in your hands and wrists, hand strength and dexterity are essential.

Those small muscles need to work together in order to give you control over small objects.

Stabilizing muscles in the wrist and forearm are also important in order to position your hands to perform specific tasks.

Developing hand strength and dexterity involves having your child do activities that use their hands and fingers together.

Some ways to help encourage your child to develop their hand strength and dexterity include:

  • Cutting with scissors
  • Tripod grasp exercises
  • Pincer grasp exercises
  • Open thumb web space exercises
  • Clothespin activities
  • Playing with squirt toys
  • Crumpling small pieces of paper

4. Bilateral Hand Coordination

Bilateral hand coordination is having the ability to use both hands to work together and coordinate their actions.

This is an important foundational fine motor development skill.

Developing bilateral hand coordination is essential for your child and allows them to perform tasks using both hands.

Things like throwing or catching a ball, tying shoelaces, holding a piece of paper while cutting it, and eating with utensils all require bilateral hand coordination.

Each of these also helps your child develop their crossing the midline skill.

Underdeveloped bilateral hand coordination can negatively affect your child’s skill development.

It can interfere with their daily tasks and activities and lead them to avoid certain activities that involve using both hands.

You can encourage your child to develop this development skill through symmetrical and reciprocal hand activities.

These also help your child develop their crossing the midline skill.

What Happens If Your Child Struggles With These?

There are certain fine motor skills developmental milestones that your child is expected to reach by certain ages.

If they’re having issues with their fine motor skills development, it can negatively affect their physical and cognitive development.

It can cause them to struggle with personal care and classroom activities.

Not addressing the issue can also cause developmental delays in learning more detailed and complicated fine motor skills.

Whatever the reason for their fine motor skills delay, it’s important to address their issues and help them develop their skills so they can continue learning and be more independent.

As pediatric occupational therapists, we have numerous treatment plans that can help your child build their foundation of fine motor skills.

Book Your Appointment With New Horizons Wellness Services Today

If you’ve noticed that your child is struggling with their fine motor skills, it can lead to difficulties later on.

Whatever it is that’s causing these issues, we can help.

At New Horizons Wellness Services, we offer pediatric occupational therapy to help address your child’s fine motor skills delays and struggles.

Book your appointment with New Horizons Wellness Services today.

Yours in Health,

New Horizons Wellness Services
13333 SW 68th Pkwy,
Tigard, OR 97223


New Horizons Wellness Services provides a true multidisciplinary approach to mental & physical health treatments for children, adults and families.