Fine motor control is the ability to coordinate and control the small movements we use every day, such as holding a pencil or picking something up with our fingers. It’s using those little tiny muscles. It can be the hands, the feet or the face, but usually in education we’re using our hands. We don’t often think about them until we see a student that lacks the ability to do things with increased functionality (like when your child uses his fist to tie his shoes and has trouble with holding the laces with his fingers). This is a pretty comprehensive list of milestones by age for both fine and gross motor.
Fine motor skills are what help children button and zip, hold a pencil, turn a page, dip a french fry, type on a keyboard, and the list goes on. Children need a lot of practice to develop these skills. The more practice a child gets doing an activity, the more likely they’ll develop muscle memory and they won’t have to think too hard about coordinating them (this automaticity is how I can type and not think about each letter I need to press on my keyboard).
Practice, practice, practice. There are a variety of things you can do to improve fine motor control, and the majority of them are actually fun. You can find a list of free ideas here. I’ve compiled a little list of things we use at home (there are a whole lot more I didn’t even include!). These are just our favorites. I keep #11 in the car at all times for my toddler boys!
1. Lace boards 2. Training scissors 3. Tool kit 4. Foam lacing beads 5. Tweezers 6. Sorting pie 7. Muffin pans 8. Twisty eyedroppers 9. Jumbo eyedroppers 10. EZ Grip Flexies 11. Screw block set 12. Trail mix lacing beads
I also like to use these pin-it activities I made with my toddler. I bought this corkboard (I prefer the sheets over the roll so I don’t have to clamp it down to prevent the roll from curling) and a clipboard. I used tacky glue to secure it to the clipboard, but you don’t even really need to. I have a few Jumbo tack sets and he likes to alternate which colors he uses (hey, whatever floats your fine motor control boat, buddy). Loads of fun practice for him, and bonus, it’s a quiet activity we can work on while his brother naps! We sometimes like to hang them on the window to see the light through the holes 🙂