Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Motor skills help children to explore their environments and function independently. As such, they’re an essential part of cognitive and social development.

Motor skills strengthen the neural connections that help children execute academic tasks. Therefore, children who develop these skills at a young age tend to perform better throughout their academic careers. They’re better prepared to perform both inside and outside of the classroom.

Let’s learn more about motor skills and how your child uses them in daily life. We’ll also talk about signs that your child may be struggling with them and explain how occupational therapy can help.

“Bless you, [Skills 4 Life], for ALL you do for our children. You make such a difference on this planet, one child at a time.”

Elise G.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are large movements a child makes with their arms, legs, or feet. They require the use of the core stabilizing muscles in the trunk. These skills allow children to perform activities like standing, walking, running, climbing, and sitting upright at a table. One of the essential components is eye-hand coordination, which a child needs in order to catch, throw, or kick a ball.

The development of gross motor skills relies on building blocks, such as balance, coordination, and postural control.

Some children struggle with gross motor skills and thus experience problems with developmental milestones such as walking, running, jumping, and catching. As a result, they may not be able to keep up with their peers, and they may avoid playing sports and doing other physical activities. This avoidance can lead to poor self-esteem, lack of motivation, and a tendency to miss out on rewarding social experiences.

Here are some indicators that your child may be struggling with gross motor skills:Gross Motor Skills

  • Slow to reach developmental milestones like sitting up, crawling, walking, etc.
  • Lack of endurance or a tendency to tire easily
  • Challenges with handwriting or drawing
  • Difficulty in transferring a learned skill to a new environment
  • Inability to maneuver around play equipment safely

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are movements made with the smaller muscles of the hands and fingers. Examples of everyday tasks that rely on these skills include buttoning, zipping, handwriting, cutting, and tying shoelaces.

Fine motor skills are necessary for performing acts of self-care, playing, and completing academic work. To develop these skills, a child needs core capacities, such as postural stability, bilateral coordination, hand strength, dexterity, and touch perception.

Some children struggle with fine motor skills, which may result in poor academic performance, low self-esteem, and compromised independence.

Here are some examples of what these struggles can look like at home and in school:

  • An underdeveloped or awkward pencil grasp
  • Inability to cut with scissors skillfully
  • Problems manipulating small objects like Legos or beads
  • Poor typing skills
  • Difficulties with writing, drawing, or painting

“We loved working with [Skills 4 Life], and our son learned so much. Thanks for helping him build his confidence in writing. I am so proud of everything you two accomplished!”

Julie, Boulder, CO

An Early Assessment of Performance Can Make a Difference in Development

Motor Skills

Many families are advised to adopt a “watch-and-wait” approach when their children are having learning or motor difficulties. We have found that this approach tends to contribute to worsening symptoms and broadens the gap between a child’s potential and performance. As a result, children to become discouraged and avoid participating in activities that provide enriching and age-appropriate opportunities to learn and connect with peers.

For all of these reasons, we encourage you to book an early assessment with a Skills 4 Life therapist if your child seems to be struggling in any of the ways mentioned above. Our staff specializes in assessing and remediating deficiencies. We can develop a customized treatment plan with therapeutic activities tailored to meet your child’s needs.

Skills 4 Life Therapists Can Help Your Child Develop Better Motor Skills

Skills 4 Life understands that the development of motor skills is critical to your child’s academic success and overall wellbeing.

With therapy, children can build muscle strength and improve coordination. As a result, they increase their skill set, experience greater mastery, and become more independent.

During treatment sessions, our experienced staff utilizes therapeutic activities designed to improve your child’s gross or fine motor skills. We also provide parents with personalized activities and exercises, so the child can practice at home and continue to build their proficiency.

After children have completed our programs, their family members and teachers report tremendous growth both in specific skill areas and in the amount of confidence they bring to all that they do.

Contact the Skills 4 Life office at (303) 351-1828 or karina@skills4lifeot.com to schedule a consultation with a pediatric occupational therapist today!