Develop Hand Muscle Strength Using These Fine Motor Skills

The muscles used in handwriting begin to develop and strengthen in infancy. By the age of five, most children have developed enough muscle strength and control to begin writing.

The small finger muscles are the ones most central to the writing process. However, the larger muscles of the hand, shoulder, arm, and wrist also need to be strong and efficient. They provide the necessary stability that allows the smaller muscles to do their job.

Fine motor skills such as thumb opposition and in-hand manipulation rely on muscle strength and control.

If your child needs help improving the muscle strength that leads to fine motor skills for handwriting success, here are some ideas:

Start with Strengthening the Larger Hand Movements

Start with strengthening the larger hand movements, such as squeezing, pinching, and weight-bearing. Then progress toward the smaller more refined hand and finger movements that are used for in-hand manipulation tasks. Strengthening tools include Play-Doh, Silly Putty, squirt bottles, bubble wrap, wheelbarrow or animal walks, clothespins, pegboards, etc.

Develop Muscle Differentiation & Strengthen Smaller Muscle Groups

Subsequently, work on muscle differentiation and strength of the small muscles in the hand and fingers.

Have kids pick up multiple marbles, coins, or sponges cut into small cubes with one hand at a time. Then, squirrel them into their palms. Next, have the child move the item back to their fingertips one at a time and place them into a container with a small opening on top.

Fine Motor Skills for Handwriting 2

Fine Motor Skills for Handwriting 3

Use smaller pencils and crayons to help a child achieve a better grasp by encouraging pinching rather than grasping.

To increase the stability of a child’s hand so that their thumb and fingers can produce precise motor movements, have them hold a small pom-pom or bead in the palm of their hand with their pinky and ring fingers while coloring or writing.

Pencil Grasp

The modified/adapted tripod grasp is good for those who have weak hand muscles and fatigue easily. It uses the least number of muscles or muscle strength of any grip position.

Tripod Grasp

It is important to know that a child can have poor handwriting even with good fine motor skills. Other issues that can affect handwriting include impaired motor planning skills, visual motor skills, perceptual/spatial skills. Attention, memory, and attitude can also play a major role.

If you feel that your child could benefit from a handwriting assessment, please contact our office at 303.351.1828.

About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at, or you can contact our office by email at or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.

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