5 Days of Fine Motor Functioning- First Things First

     What comes before good fine motor functioning? 

     In this series of 5 Days of Fine Motor Fun, I'll simplify fine motor functioning and share many fun ideas to help the development of these lifelong skills (primarily through play.) This first day of the series is about skills required for fine motor functioning to be optimal. 

DevelopmentJust as a baby crawls before he walks, there is a natural  progression to the development of hand function.

      Notice the two year old's hand holding the sippy cup, fingers flexed, wrist extended. Babies are not born able to hold on like that. They develop strength in their arms as they turn over and push up on their forearms. They focus on their hands (which also relates to reflexes mentioned below) long before they are able to use them purposefully. 

Reflexes - Primitive reflexes, if not integrated, can hinder movement and function, however these reflexes play a key role in how movement patterns develop, too. The first grasping a baby does is because of the grasp reflex. An older child is able to grasp a bicycle handle because earlier in life they integrated their grasp reflex. 

StabilityAnother precursor to good fine motor function is stability. Proximal stability leads to distal mobility. Without enough core strength to sit or stand, it is much more difficult to complete higher level fine motor tasks as all of their efforts are used holding their balance. Jumping on a mini-trampoline or bouncing on a ball helps to strengthen these core muscles. 

    Weight bearing is a term that simply means bearing weight through your joints. Natural weightbearing occurs in your legs as you stand and walk, and it is one of many things that help muscle strength and joint stability. When a baby pushes up from their stomach and onto their forearms or hands that is also weight bearing. That action is a precursor to higher level fine motor functioning.  

     Wheelbarrow walking is a fun way for a child to actively bear weight through their arms. Two children do this, one is the wheelbarrow (and the one to benefit from the weightbearing) and the other is pushing the wheelbarrow. 

Vision If you suspect a vision problem, have your child's eyes checked. A pair of glasses or a different suggestion by a developmental optometrist can make a huge difference in your child's ability to focus on and complete fine motor tasks. 

That is a brief summary of a few skills needed to be able complete fine motor tasks. Additional posts in this series will cover fun activities to encourage in-hand manipulation, bilateral hand use, high level fine motor skills, and some great giveaways of fine motor "tools."

***The information provided in this series has been simplified for generalization. I have not met your child so cannot offer individualized therapeutic advice. If you have a concern about your child’s fine motor skills or suspect a delay, seek a referral to a local Occupational Therapist. 

     This 5 day series FINE MOTOR FUN is a part of a larger series by 65 bloggers on the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. See all of the topics here.



  1. My daughter has some serious fine motor and core strength issues with low muscle tone, so I will be keeping up with your 5 days series :).

    Amy B

  2. I am trying this again, I am really looking forward to your series because I am looking for more fine motor activities for my son.

  3. Very interesting info! I'm sure I'll find some helpful ideas to try with my daughter.

  4. Thanks for visiting! I do hope you all have found some helpful ideas in this series.

  5. I learned a lot that I didn't know. Can't wait to read the rest.

  6. My 8 yo ds still has some fine motor skills issues. He is in speech therapy so that helps.

    Love the little baby hands!!

  7. Interesting. I have kids at different fine motor levels as they range from newborn to 6 years old.


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