Fine Motor Skills in Child Development and Early Intervention

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Reviewed & Edited by: Becky DiLettuso, MSW, Executive Director

Are you wondering if your child’s development is where it needs to be?  teli knows that is a question that many parents often have when they observe other children’s behavior.  An early concern might be a child’s ability to pick up a Cheerio or grasp your finger.  These are some of the fine motor skills that are foundational to a child’s development and if a child is having challenges, Early Intervention Services through teli can help!

early intervention child work is their play

What should I be looking for?

teli’s Occupational Therapists, often hear concerns from parents in their Early Intervention work.  Starting with the assessment of a child’s behavior and skills versus what is expected according to age based developmental milestones. This helps our Occupational Therapists reinforce with parents what they should look for and ways in which they can help their child strengthen a certain skill at home.

What fine motor skills should my child demonstrate and when?

Fine motor skills are small movements that use the small muscles of the hands, typically emerging between the ages of 9-12 months.   Some examples to look for in your child include:

  • use their thumb and pointer finger to pick up small objects
  • wave bye bye
  • bang small objects like blocks together
  • hold their own bottle
  • grasp and release toys

Why are fine motor skills so important?

Fine motor skills are foundational to other skills that your child will learn such as holding a fork to feed themselves or holding a pencil to write. Fine motor skills provide the basis for a child learning to become independent, which will also allow them to socialize with others. A child that is comfortable using their fine motor skills (coloring, pinching, grasping and releasing toys) is better able to play with others and develop important social skills. This enables the child to learn how to share and engage with others, a very important part of their social-emotional growth and development.

How can I play with my child to develop fine motor skills?

Play is an essential activity on a child’s journey to learning.   teli Occupational Therapists work with parents and their child to assess where they are on a particular developmental milestone and identify what toys and activities can  help to build strength and capability in that particular area. Additionally, it is recommended that parents get down on the floor with their child and get busy playing!   Here are some great ways to help develop your child’s fine motor skills.

  • Introduce new toys allowing them to explore, push and pull them.
  • Play with blocks, stacking them and yes- enjoying knocking them down!
  • Play with Play Dough by squeezing it between their fingers and forming shapes and feeling the texture.
  • Put together large wooden puzzles, picking up pieces and placing them in position.
  • CLEAN UP. A parent favorite! – picking up toys and placing them in a toy box
  • Create masterpieces painting with their fingers
  • Feed themselves, no matter how messy!

Early Intervention Services can help your child achieve the developmental milestones to enable them to reach their full potential. If you have questions, call teli at 412-922-8322.

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