Fine motor skills are necessary for children to perform adequately in a classroom setting. These skills include holding and rotating a pencil, coloring, and even going to the restroom unassisted. If a child lacks these skills, it can make classroom tasks incredibly difficult and lead to frustration from all parties. To avoid your child falling too far behind with their fine motor skills, it’s important to know what you can expect at different ages.
Fine Motor Skills for Elementary and Middle School Children
Pre Elementary (4-5 years old)
At 4-5 years old, a child should be able to cut along lines continuously, coordinate hands to brush teeth or hair, copy circles, crosses, and squares, and be able to hold a pencil with a tripod or three-point grip. A child should also be able to color inside lines, write their name, copy numbers one through five, and be independently attempting to draw a range of different pictures. At home, your child should have no problem dressing themselves, opening zip lock bags or lunch boxes, or completing puzzles with up to twelve interlocking pieces.
Early Elementary (5-6 years old)
At the early elementary age, a child should be able to cut out simple shapes, write numbers one through ten independently, and generate letters without assistance. The child should be comfortable writing with a three-finger grip, using a knife or fork for softer foods, and complete puzzle up to twenty pieces.
Middle Elementary (6-7 years old)
The middle elementary stage is a stage where a child is mostly improving on pre-established skills and developing pencil control and endurance. The child should be able to draw detailed pictures with recognizable objects, build with Legos, tie shoelaces, and be able to write on lines. If a child is having problems dressing, completing puzzle toys, or independently opening zip lock bags, then there is a potential cause for concern.
Late Elementary (7-8 years old)
As a child nears eight years old, they should be able to write neatly while holding a pencil with a three-finger grip and control the pencil from their fingers, not their wrist. They should also be able to maintain legible handwriting for the length of a piece of paper, form letters and numbers correctly, and be able to cut neatly around a shape. If a child is struggling with building with legos or other blocks, completing complex puzzles, or tying shoelaces, then there may be a need for further development on these fronts.
When it comes to early childhood development, there is a lot of variation between children. Sometimes a child may excel exponentially in one category, such as writing or drawing, and maybe a little further back on the scale when it comes to kinesthetic skills. While many of these skills are practiced inside the classroom, if you find that a child is making little to no progress over a few months, it may be necessary to seek an occupational therapist to provide individual and unique resources for the child.
If you’re looking for a therapy model that can fit easily into a busy schedule or provide your child with quality help despite social distancing requirements, then Connect Teletherapy is a therapy program designed to make therapy accessible to you and your child no matter what the circumstance.