Play Therapy: Fine Motor Skills

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Fine motor skills refer to a child's ability to perform small, detailed tasks like tying shoes, buttoning buttons, zipping and unzipping zippers, using scissors, and moving small or fragile items. In order to master these skills, children develop the delicate muscles in their hands, wrists, and arms so they can carefully manipulate the world around them. All kids begin to learn these skills as they grow, but some struggle to keep pace with their peers. Therapy through play can help. ​ The Importance of Fine Motor Skills Any task an adult completes with their hands comes from their early fine motor skill development. Early in life, they learned how to dress themselves, feed themselves, and use tools and instruments. These abilities led to academic skills like writing with pens and pencils, drawing, graphing, typing, and handling electronics. Without strong fine motor skills, all of these abilities are impossible. ​

  • Kids with poor fine motor skills often develop low self-esteem.

  • A lack of fine motor skills almost always hurts academic performance.

  • Fine motor skills are the basis of personal independence.

​ Fine Motor Skills Basics In order to advance, there are a few core building blocks every child must master. They are simple in the eyes of adults, of course, but they serve as milestones signaling a child's development. ​

  • Body Awareness: Understanding signals sent to the brain about position and motion

  • Bilateral Integration: Using two hands to perform different roles in a single task, like pushing a button through a hole

  • Crossing Midline: Using the right hand to reach for things on the left and vice versa

  • Hand-Eye Coordination: Recognizing and judging distance between hands and objects by sight