Free Checklist: Fine Motor Skills Milestones for Preschoolers

 

Children use their fine motor skills in every aspect of their daily lives, and as your preschooler learns to be independent, he or she will need well-developed fine motor skills in order to participate successfully in play, learning and self-care activities.

Below are some of the typical developmental milestones that pre-schoolers reach as they develop fine motor skills.

If you notice that your child is struggling with some of the ‘Red Flags’ listed, contact your doctor or an occupational therapist for professional advice.

Between the ages of 3-4 years, your child should be able to:

  • Draw a circle by themself
  • Copy a cross (+)
  • Imitate you drawing a square
  • Use playdough to make balls, snakes, cookies, etc.
  • Build a tower of 9-10 small blocks
  • Build things with large linking blocks, such as Megablocks or Duplo
  • Start to hold a crayon or pencil with a mature grasp (like an adult)
  • Cut across a piece of paper
  • Start to cut along a straight line
  • Manage buttons
  • Feed themself well with a spoon and fork
  • Put on most items of clothing by themself (but may still need some help)

Red Flags for Fine Motor Development (4 years)

If you notice some of the following things about your child by the time he or she is 4 years old, you may want to talk to your doctor, or to another health professional such as an occupational therapist.

  • Your child’s movements seem shaky or stiff
  • Your child’s arms and hands seem very weak
  • Your child is not able to cut across a piece of paper with scissors
  • Your child cannot copy a cross (+)
  • Your child is not able to draw a circle and straight lines by themself
  • Your child cannot string 2 cm beads onto a lace
  • Your child cannot use a fork and spoon well
  • Your child is not able to put on their own pants, or take shoes and socks off

Between the ages of 4-5 years, your child should be able to:

  • Start to use one hand consistently for fine motor tasks
  • Cut along a straight line with scissors
  • Start to cut along a curved line, like a circle
  • Draw a cross by themself (+)
  • Copy a square
  • Begin to draw diagonal lines, like in a triangle
  • Start to colour inside the lines of a picture
  • Start to draw pictures that are recognisable
  • Build things with smaller linking blocks, such as Duplo or Lego
  • Start to learn to print some capital letters
  • Put on their own clothing, but may still need help with buttons/zippers
  • Start to spread butter or cut soft foods with a small table knife (with supervision)

Red Flags for Fine Motor Development (5 years)

If you notice some of the following things about your child by the time he or she turns 5, you may want to talk to your doctor, or to another health professional such as an occupational therapist.

  • Your child’s movements seem shaky or stiff
  • Your child’s arms and hands seem very weak
  • Your child is not able to cut along a straight line
  • Your child is not holding her crayons or pencils with their thumb and fingers
  • Your child is not able to draw a circle, square and cross (+)
  • Your child is not able to feed themself well with a spoon and for
  • Your child is not able to put on their own shirts, pants, socks, and shoes (even with some help with buttons/zippers)

Concerned for your child’s fine motor skills?

Taking action to support your child’s fine motor skills before they start school is always preferable to a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Children who struggle with fine motor skills find it harder to:

  • Participate in playground games
  • Engage in learning activities such as art, craft and pre-writing tasks
  • Be independent at meal-times and when toileting

These problems can affect their self-esteem and behaviour at home, preschool and school.

If you have concerns about your child at any age, please feel free to contact us to speak to a professional occupational therapist.

An OT can provide you with tips that will build your child’s fine motor skills, and fun practice activities that you can enjoy at home.

© 2018 Kids First Children’s Services

Occupational Therapy for children in Sydney's northern beaches

 

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Kids First’s experienced team of OTs are located in Sydney’s northern beaches and have helped hundreds of preschoolers to improve their fine motor skills in time for school.

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