Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements which occur e.g., in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes. In application to motor skills of hands (and fingers) the term dexterity is commonly used.
The abilities which involve the use of hands develop over time, starting with primitive gestures such as grabbing at objects to more precise activities that involve precise eye–hand coordination.
Fine motor skills are skills that involve a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. The development of these skills allows one to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, and buttoning.
As children refine their motor skills, they are able to communicate by written expression, starting off with scribbling and moving on to printing and writing.
Lets take a brief summary of development of hand grasp:
In infants (age 0 to 3 months), the Hands most often remain closed
has grasp reflex (grasps objects involuntarily if placed in palm)
As the infants reaches 2-4 months , he/she reaches for (“swipes at”) objects inaccurately.
From 3 – 6 months, the child Clasps hands together often, begins purposeful, visually directed reaching and can hold small objects in hand.
From 4-8 months, a child can transfer objects from one hand to the other, can pick up cube/medium sized object easily.The child develops accurate forward and side reach.
From 5 months onward , child “rakes” or “scoops” small objects to pick them up (i.e. using fingers/palm/whole hand to scoop up Cheerios, raisins etc.
As the child reaches 7 months, he/she intentionally able to drop/release objects and able to pick up small objects using thumb and finger/fingers. He/she also started pointing with index finger.
From 12 onward, child is capable of holding crayon with whole hand, thumb up.
As he/she attains the age of 2 years ,he/she holds crayon with thumb and all fingers, forearm turned so thumb is pointing down
puts on shoes, socks, and shorts; takes off shoes and socks
can use a spoon by himself, keeping it upright
can draw and copy a vertical line.
Accuracy and speed will significantly began to develop in between 2 – 3 years. Now, the child strings large beads, snips paper with scissors, rolls clay/play-doh into “snake”, can draw and copy a horizontal line.
From 3 years onward, the child will also able to complete simple puzzles, can build a tower of nine small blocks or more, can get himself dressed/undressed independently; only needs help with buttons; still confuses front/back for clothes, and right/left for shoes
can feed himself with little or no spilling, drinks from a cup/glass with one hand.
From 4 years, a child can pour his own drink from a pitcher if not too heavy, can place small pegs into small holes, able to string small beads, can hold a pencil with a “tripod grasp” (3 fingers), but moves forearm and wrist to write/draw/color.
From 4 1/2 to 5 years, child can use scissors to follow and cut both straight and curved lines, can manage buttons, zippers, and snaps completely, can draw and copy a cross (one vertical and one horizontal intersecting lines).
From 5 years onward, the child can hold fork using his fingers, can feed him soup with little or no spilling, folds paper in half, making sure the edges meet, puts a key in a lock and opens it.
The development of Hand Skill is a fascinating process, as every single day the child will learn new ways to explore his/her surrounding world.
Dr. P Pathak
Managing Director @SwavalambanRehab