Early Childhood Development and Fine Motor Skills

At Creative Arts School, we are dedicated not only to offering a place for your child to explore their creativity and learn new things, but also providing a space for them to practice and gain important skills for the future. One milestone many children work toward and often reach while in preschool is the use of fine motor skills. Keep reading to learn more about fine motor skills and how they can be honed at preschool and at home!

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills refer to the use of smaller muscles in the hands or wrists to make precise movements, such as holding and controlling a pencil or pushing a button through a buttonhole. These skills involve a coordinated effort between the brain and the muscles, and build off of gross motor skills that use all our major muscles, such as crawling, walking, and jumping. Fine motor skills come naturally to many of us, but trouble in this area can make everyday tasks such as getting dressed or doing homework difficult.


Of course, all kids develop at different rates, but there are a few general milestones you can look for when it comes to the development of fine motor skills. For example, at age 5 or 6, most kids can control a fork and spoon and copy down shapes or letters without much difficulty. By age 9 or 10, many kids can draw and use fine tools such as rulers without frustration. Missing these milestones or other difficulties related to developing fine motor skills may be a sign of a developmental coordination disorder. First signs of difficulties are often spotted in preschool.

Why Fine Motor Skills Matter

The ability to button a shirt may not seem very important, but small tasks like that add up, and challenges with fine motor skills can have a big impact. Difficulty using writing utensils or scissors, for example, can affect your child’s performance in school. An inability to play with exacting toys such as dolls or building blocks can affect their social relationships. Trouble tying their shoes or brushing their teeth can impact their self esteem, their health, and their independence. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help your child master fine motor skills!

How to Practice

There are a lot of ways to practice fine motor skills, because you use these small muscles and precise movements in so many ways throughout your life! Arts and crafts are a fantastic place to start, because there are so many different materials to choose from, and chances are good that you’ll be able to find at least one craft your child is excited by! Play dough, putty, and clay are great options, especially in the beginning stages of developing fine motor skills. Practicing with pencils, markers, paint brushes, and scissors can help even more. You can also try outdoor activities like gardening or indoor entertainment like board games!

How to Help

If you think your child is struggling to master fine motor skills, there is more you can do than encourage them to practice. For one, you can make accommodations such as choosing wide-ruled paper or providing them with a pencil grip. You can also talk to your child’s pediatrician to see what other options may be available, such as sessions with a pediatric occupational therapist.

Encourage Your Child to Grow at Creative Arts School

If you’re looking for a preschool or daycare that puts your child first and encourages playtime and exploration, then contact Creative Arts School! We have three locations throughout Bethesda and we love helping kids learn important skills for school as well as more about the world around them through outdoor play and field trips. Explore our site or call today to learn more!