Fine Motor Skills and Your Preschooler

kid boy and woman play colorful clay toy in nursery or day care center

Tiny hands are often busy ones too. The expert work of playing in kinetic sand, stringing noodles onto yarn, and building with blocks isn’t just simple play. These activities are also ways for your child to build fine motor skills—skills they will need later in life for holding a pencil or turning a page of a book.

Fine motor skills aren’t just important for future work, but also lead to more independence for your child. As they learn to feed themselves, dress, and even go potty without help, they’ll do so using fine motor skills.

Children who have underdeveloped fine motor skills can quickly become frustrated, when tasks they want to accomplish such as cutting out a shape with safety scissors or zipping their coat illude them. They may even avoid doing these things so they don’t have to face their difficulties with these tasks.

Fun Ways to Improve Fine Motor Skills

The good news is there are plenty of ways you can help your child build their fine motor skills. Great activities to help strengthen your child’s finger muscles and their fine motor skills along with it include:

  • Playing with Clay
  • Stringing beads on string
  • Building a Block tower
  • Completing puzzles
  • Coloring and drawing

These activities are great not only because they help build your child’s fine motor skills, but also because they are fun to do. Without the pressure of having to measure up to adult tasks like zippers and buttons.

The world is full of fun ways to practice these skills, and by letting the child take the lead with activities they want to do, it can inspire them to work harder than ever to master new skills.

Fine Motor Skill Goals for Ages 4-5

While every child is unique and develops at their own pace, there are general goals for preschoolers they should attain at this age. As a preschooler, your child should be able to achieve the following:

  • Use a specific hand for fine motor skills
  • Learn to print some capital letters
  • Build things with Legos or duplo blocks
  • Cut a straight line with scissors

If your child isn’t able to do these things yet, it may not necessarily be that they are behind. There is a big difference between a 4 year old who has just turned 4, and one who is 6 months older. Although not meeting milestones isn’t necessarily a concern, there are some red flags you should look out for in your preschooler.

If your preschooler can’t hold a crayon between her thumb and forefinger, seems to have very week arms and hands, or is unable to feed themselves, it may be wise to speak to a therapist on how to help.

Preschool is a very important developmental time in your child’s life. The skills they learn as they participate in activities such as playing with clay or coloring will carry with them for the rest of their life. Play is a powerful tool in helping to shape those skills.