Teacher Talk for Parents: Fine Motor Skills

So you had a meeting with your child’s PreK teacher. They go through a list of things that they assess your child on. They mention “fine motor skills.” Wait. What are fine motor skills again?

Fine motor skills are a key component to a child’s success in handwriting! Being able to grip a pencil can be a challenge for some students, especially those with an IEP (Individualized Education Program). Having a grasp (pardon the pun) on fine motor skills is an important part of preschool. Your child is expected to do tasks that require a good grip with those little fingers. It ensures their success in being able to hold a pencil later on.

Dr. Jhavene Morrison is one of our pediatrician career champions.
With technology becoming more and more prominent, why does my child need to be able to do this?

A lot of jobs require well-developed fine motor skills. It’s essentially all about hand-eye coordination. A mechanic, a chef, a hair stylist, a neurological surgeon, etc. All these jobs require precision and a delicate touch.

Okay, you’ve made your point. What can I do to help out at home?

Well, there’s a lot of different activities that you can find. Here are a few that I recommend based on my experience.

1. Tweezers and pom poms: Fill a bin or cup with pom poms. The other cup or bin is empty. Ask your little one to fill the cup using only the tweezers. See if they can get at least 10 pom poms in the other cup before the timer runs out. The trick is they are not allowed to use their fingers. Trust me. They will try to do it with their hands because using the tweezers will be challenging. Set a timer on your phone for 30 seconds.

2. Plate Sewing: Poke some holes in a paper plate. Tie some big knots at the end of some shoelaces or yarn. Ask your little one to sew the plate using the string.

Monkey bars are a great way to strengthen handwriting.

3. Monkey bars: Another “trick of the trade” is encouraging children to go on monkey bars or participate in climbing obstacles on the playground. The monkey bars will strengthen their fingers and wrists, as well as develop the dexterity in their hands!

How can I use technology to help?

My recommendation is to use it as a reward for your little one. Using technology is a challenge to strengthen this skill. Many games geared toward this age group require the use of only one finger and one hand to hold the device. You can challenge them to try and use their other fingers with video games. If they are playing Genius Plaza’s FishDiet, you can ask them to move the fish with their pointer finger first, then their pinky finger, middle finger, and then their ring finger.

FishDiet is an interactive multiple choice answer game.
What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is this: fine motor skills ensure a child’s success not only academically but in the future. It ensures that students will be able to hold a spoon and zipper their own coats. It will ensure that they succeed in whatever career they choose. Research shows that fine motor skills are linked to cognitive development. So tell your child, “this will help you do better in school.” “If you can do this, you can do anything.”


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