Transition into school

Developing fine motor skills

Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles that control the hand, fingers, and thumb.

They help children perform important tasks like feeding themselves, buttoning and zipping clothes, writing, drawing and much more.

Little hands can develop dexterity and strength through practical play activities such as;

  • play dough
  • safe scissors
  • threading
  • building

These will you help your child prepare for holding a pencil, mark-making and ultimately write.

Is your child able to:

  • squeeze and roll play dough using the palms of their hands
  • thread a bead
  • carefully build a tower
  • control scissors with one hand to make a snip in paper
  • use a safe knife to cut food
  • squeeze tweezers to pick up objects
  • fasten and unfasten clothing such as; zip up/unzip, button up/unbutton, open and close velcro
  • show a preference for a dominant hand
  • hold a pencil between thumb and two fingers
  • control mark making tools to make circles, lines and zig-zags

How you can help

  • provide play dough for your child to explore – encourage squeezing, rolling, pressing using fingers, thumbs and palms
  • encourage your child to 'take their time' 'persevere' 'concentrate' when building or threading as this can be tricky
  • encourage your child to put on and take off clothing supporting them with fastening and unfastening zips, buttons, Velcro
  • place your hand over your child's to guide them with opening and closing scissors
  • help your child position their fingers on a mark making tool for better control

Activity ideas

  • clothes pegs help to strengthen the muscles for fine motor control - let your child help with squeezing the pegs when hanging clothes or provide pots to clip the pegs on to
  • your child can make marks using a range of tools; sticks, paint brush, feather, straw, wands, chalk - dip a paintbrush in a pot of water and mark make on the fence, pavement
  • when playing with play dough use a safe knife or picnic utensils to practice 'cutting', place your hand over your child's to guide them in moving the knife and holding the fork still
  • when mark-making encourage your child to make anti-clockwise circles, zig zags, up and down lines - these movements are all essential for forming letters when writing
  • fastenings on your child's clothing can be tricky at first - provide play opportunities to practice these skills