Our children use their fine motor skills countless times throughout the day. Anything from picking up the small pieces of cereal that fell to the floor during breakfast, to writing their name at the top of homework, to strumming the strings during guitar class, to painting a Picasso masterpiece incorporate different fine motor skills. Below is list of fine motor milestones to make sure that your child is up to speed with their skills:
12-18 months: Children should typically be able to imitate spontaneous scribbles on a piece of paper with a thick marker.
19-24 months: Children should typically be able to imitate vertical strokes, horizontal strokes, and circles on a piece of paper.
2 ½ – 3 years: Children should typically be able to accurately copy vertical lines, horizontal lines, and circles.
4-5 years: Children should typically be able to copy a cross, square, triangle and ‘x.’ This is also the age to begin practicing the formation of the letters in your child’s name.
5 years: Children should typically have their hand dominance established for fine motor activities.
6 years: Typically, children should be able to copy or write their name. By 6 years of age, they should also be able to write the alphabet without omitting letters. Children should be able to write the alphabet in uppercase and lowercase letters without switching forms throughout.
7 years: Children should no longer reverse the letters of the alphabet while writing (example: ‘b’ versus ‘d’). They should also use appropriate capital letters and punctuation to write complete sentences.
Children develop their fine motor skills at different rates. If your child is delayed, it is not necessarily cause for concern but an occupational therapy evaluation may be warranted. Try to incorporate hand strengthening activities into your day to day routine (examples: swinging on monkey bars, coloring, playing in play dough) and offer your child a lot of praise for any attempts at novel or challenging fine motor activities.