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What Every Parent Ought To Know About Fine Motor Skills

Team StoryWeavers|November 17, 2020, 13:14 IST|

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Tying shoelaces, drawing pictures, eating with a fork, brushing teeth, etc. – these are everyday activities that most children do with ease.

These simple tasks require immense coordination between different small muscles along with speed, strength, and precision. And, child development experts call them fine motor skills!

These skills are an essential part of a child’s development. Fine motor skills are built on a child’s existing gross motor skills, which need them to use large muscle groups. According to a research paper published in Psychology Science Quarterly, fine motor skills impact the academic growth of the children. Fine motor skills, or lack thereof, will also help you understand if your child is ready for school or not. Another research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2019 has shown that many children have poor motor competence. That is why understanding fine motor skills is of great importance for parents and teachers. 

Today, let’s learn about: 

  • What Are Fine Motor Skills?
  • How Does Brain Development Affect Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills
  • How Can Parents Build a Child’s Fine Motor Skills At Home?

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Motor development is a process through which your child develops movement patterns and skills.  Motor skills are referred to skills in which both the movement and the outcome of action are emphasized. For example, throwing or writing. 

There are two types of motor skills

A research published in Human Movement Science defines fine motor skills as the use of small muscles involved in movements that require the functioning of the extremities such as fingers to manipulate objects. 

Fine Motor Skills are necessary for everyday self-care activities such as eating and dressing. As your child learns to engage in these activities on their own, they become more independent. These skills are also required for play, study and social interaction. Generally, fine motor skills improve as the child grows up. 

How Does Brain Development Affect Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills?

The development of the brain influences the development of fine motor skills in a child. The motor cortex primarily governs motor skills. The brain functions at its best when a fatty substance coats the neurons called myelin. This process of myelination is incomplete at birth. During the early years of the child, corpus callosum, a part of the brain, grows and begins to myelinate. It allows the brain to communicate more effectively and, in turn, allows your child to perform fine motor skills such as tying shoelaces. 

How Can Parents  Build a Child’s Fine Motor Skills At Home?

Research published in Australian Occupational Therapy suggests that difficulties with fine motor skills can significantly affect a child’s academic, social and emotional development of a child. This makes fine motor skills a critical aspect of a child’s development. 

Here are a few ways in which you can build the fine motor skills of your child at home. 

Eyedropper Art

Eyedropper ArtParental Involvement Level: No more than usual

Requirements: Eyedropper, Watercolours, A4 Papers, 2 to 3 Cups, Coin 

Preparation: Draw a few coin-sized circles on a paper.  Make coloured water. 


  • Use an eyedropper to colour the coin-sized circles on the paper
  • Keep the rest of the paper clean
  • Ensure that eyedropper does not touch the paper

Reward Criteria:

  • Count the number of circles coloured properly inside the line
  • Take the cleanliness of the paper into consideration

Pencil/Toothpick Poke Lamp Art

Parental Involvement Level: Keep a close eye on the child

Requirements: Pencils, Sharpener, Paper, Toothpicks, 

Preparation: Draw or print your child’s favourite picture or shape on the paper. Ensure that the border is on the thicker size. 


  • Discuss pencil/toothpick safety with the child
  • Place the paper on the carpet or stick it to the floor to keep it steady
  • Demonstrate how to poke holes using a pencil/toothpick
  • Ask the child to poke holes along the lines of the picture

Reward Criteria:

  • Align the poked picture art exactly where you want it to be on the lampshade
  • Enjoy the night lamp!


Pantomime Pulling Imaginary Rope

Parental Involvement Level: Interactive

Requirements: Nothing 

Preparation: List out activities that children could pretend to do such as scoop ice-cream or shoot an arrow. 


  • The parent enacts one of the activities first and asks the child to guess it
  • Then, the child mirrors the activity.
  • After that, the child enacts one of the remaining activities and asks the parent to guess it.
  • Later the child and the parent repeat the activity
  • This continues until the parent runs out of activities

Reward Criteria:

  • Track how many activities were guessed correctly and reward the winner!

Fine motor skills are essential for navigating everyday life. Your child’s fine motor skills will develop over time with muscle strength and practice. These skills do not develop in isolation so encourage your children to explore their environment and actively provide opportunities to practice small movements whenever possible. 


  1. Barnett, L. M., Hnatiuk, J. A., Salmon, J., & Hesketh, K. D. (2019). Modifiable factors which predict children’s gross motor competence: a prospective cohort study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
  2. The brain and the body. (2017). In Physical development. Sage Publications, Inc.
  3. Brain, perception, and motor development. (2019). Sage Publications, Inc.
  4. Gaul, D., & Issartel, J. (2016). Fine motor skill proficiency in typically developing children: On or off the maturation track? Human Movement Science.
  5. Isbell, C. (2010). Mighty Fine Motor Fun: Fine Motor Activities for Young Children.
  6. Jackman, M., & Stagnitti, K. (2006). Fine motor difficulties: The need for advocating for the role of occupational therapy in schools. Australian Occupational Therapy.
  7. Newell, K. M. (1991). Motor Skill Acquisition. Annual Review of Psychology.
  8. Ruffin, N. J. (2013). Human growth and development – a matter of principles. Virginia Cooperative Extension.
  9. Smith, J. L. (2003). Activities for Fine Motor Skills Development.
  10. Stoeger, H., Ziegler, A., & Martzog, P. (2008). Deficits in fine motor skill as an important factor in the identification of gifted underachievers in primary school. Psychology Science Quarterly.


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