Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. They are divided into two groups: gross motor skills , which include the larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body ( crawling , running, and jumping); and fine motor skills, which are smaller actions, such as grasping an object between the thumb and a finger or using the lips and tongue to taste objects. Both types of motor skills usually develop together, because many activities depend on the coordination of gross and fine motor skills.
Development of fine motor skills is important among kids because it will in turn help them to perform better academically and physically in later years. Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing.
Fine motor skills involve strength, fine motor control, and dexterity. Some children have great difficulty with fine motor skills. Basic things such as writing, picking up tiny objects or buttoning and zipping clothing can be a great challenge for them. If these skills are not addressed, a child with weak fine motor skills might have difficulty at school.
Resultant commonly seen behaviours showing the signs of weak fine motor skills might include:
- Outright refusal to participate in an activity
- avoidance techniques (‘I need to get a drink of water’)
- anger outbursts (rip up paper/tantrums)
- sadness (crying)
- ‘defeatist’ behaviour (‘I’m no good, I can’t do this’).
Signs of weak fine motor skills:
List of observable behaviors of children with fine-motor difficulties.
- Difficulty with writing; poor grasp leading to poor form, fluency, and frequent discomfort when writing.
- Difficulty controlling speed of movements leading to excessive speed and resultant untidy work, or work not being completed due to overly slow movements.
- Difficulty with precision grip and inaccurate release and therefore problems with games that involve placement of pieces; for example, dominoes.
- Difficulty with spatial relations leading to difficulties with design and copying.
- Tearing paper and/or breaking pencils due to force-control difficulties.
- Difficulty with learning to dress and undress.
- Preference for outdoor activities.
- Clumsiness and frustration: spills food; drops objects; breaks objects.
- Frustration towards and/or resistant behavior to manipulative and graphic tasks.
- Excessive muscular tension when performing fine-motor tasks.
* Developing Fine Motor Skills (pdf)