Fine Motor Development Chart: Helping You Recognize Fine Motor Delays In Your Child

Use this fine motor development chart to assess YOUR child's fine motor skills. Oh, the questions we ask ourselves, and, are asked of us...

  • Is he on target or delayed?

  • Is he able to adequately perform the variety of fine motor skills listed?

  • Will he need "extra help" developing these skills?

  • Does he need an early intervention or Occupational Therapy referral?

  • Is he developing "normally"?

  • Has he missed any fine motor skills along the way?

  • How do I know if he is just slower to develop or is significantly delayed?

  • On and on the questions may go. Well, let me simplify this for you. It's easy... generally, the more skills he HASN'T developed for his age group (which includes all prior age group skills listed), the more his delay will be.

    This is why I have broken this fine motor development chart into stages based on age. Find your child's age and make sure he can do, or has done, the fine motor skills listed.

    You need to know, there are many specific factors and components involved in proper fine motor development. Believe me, I will not "bore" you with all the "nitty-gritty" details (i.e.. postural control and stability; hand, wrist, and shoulder movement and development; intrinsic muscle development; the different types of developmentally appropriate grasps, etc.). We will leave that to the Occupational Therapists!

    What I DO want you to know, is WHAT fine motor skills are developmentally important, and WHEN they should have developed by. In other words... a GENERAL fine motor skills checklist. Use this fine motor development chart as a general guideline (not an official diagnosis). If your child is unable to do MULTIPLE fine motor tasks listed for his age, then an occupational therapy or early intervention referral may be appropriate. If a referral is made, standardized tests and professional clinical observations will be used to determine if your child has an official fine motor delay. Until then...

    (Also, keep in mind this fine motor development chart is a good "guide" for buying toys... just look at the next developmental milestone and you will easily know what kinds of toys to buy that will develop those skills.)

    Fine Motor Development Chart:(Ages 0-5)

    0-3 MONTHS

  • hands most often remain closed

  • has grasp reflex (grasps objects involuntarily if placed in palm)

  • 2-4 MONTHS

  • reaches for ("swipes at") objects inaccurately

  • 3-3 1/2 MONTHS

  • clasps hands together often

  • 3 1/2- 4 MONTHS

  • begins purposeful, visually directed reaching

  • 3-7 MONTHS

  • can hold small objects in hand

  • 4-8 MONTHS

  • can transfer objects from one hand to the other

  • can pick up cube/medium sized object easily

  • 4-10 MONTHS

  • develops accurate forward and side reach

  • 5-9 MONTHS

  • "rakes" or "scoops" small objects to pick them up (i.e. using fingers/palm/whole hand to scoop up Cheerios, raisins etc.

  • 7-9 MONTHS

  • intentionally able to drop/release objects (get ready for the "watch-me-drop-this-watch-mommy/daddy-pick-it-up-AGAIN" game!)

  • 7-12 MONTHS

  • able to pick up small objects using thumb and finger/fingers

  • 10 MONTHS

  • pokes and/or points with index finger

  • 12-18 MONTHS

  • holds crayon with whole hand, thumb up

  • 2 YEARS

  • holds crayon with thumb and all fingers, forearm turned so thumb is pointing down

  • puts on shoes, socks, and shorts; takes off shoes and socks

  • can use a spoon by himself, keeping it upright

  • can draw and copy a vertical line

  • 2 1/2- 3 YEARS

  • strings large beads

  • snips paper with scissors

  • rolls clay/playdoh into "snake"

  • can draw and copy a horizontal line

  • 3-3 1/2 YEARS

  • able to complete simple puzzles

  • can build a tower of nine small blocks or more

  • can get himself dressed/undressed independently; only needs help with buttons; still confuses front/back for clothes, and right/left for shoes

  • can feed himself with little or no spilling, drinks from a cup/glass with one hand

    3 1/2- 4 YEARS

  • can pour his own drink from a pitcher if not too heavy

  • can place small pegs into small holes

  • able to string small beads

  • can hold a pencil with a "tripod grasp" (3 fingers), but moves forearm and wrist to write/draw/color

    4-4 1/2 YEARS

  • can use scissors to follow and cut both straight and curved lines

  • can manage buttons, zippers, and snaps completely

  • can draw and copy a cross (one vertical and one horizontal intersecting lines)

  • 4 1/2- 5 YEARS

  • can hold fork using his fingers

  • can feed himself soup with little or no spilling

  • folds paper in half, making sure the edges meet

  • puts a key in a lock and opens it

  • 5 YEARS

  • can get dressed completely by himself, and usually tie shoelaces

  • cuts square, triangle, circle, and simple pictures with scissors

  • uses a knife to spread food items (jelly, peanut butter, mayo etc.), uses a dull knife to cut soft foods

  • able to draw and copy a diagonal line

  • uses a "tripod grasp" on writing utensils (thumb & tips of 1st two fingers) and uses fingers only (because small muscles of hand have developed) to write/draw/color

    5 1/2- 6 YEARS

  • can build a five block "bridge"
  • sufficient bilateral hand coordination to cut out complex pictures, accurately following the outline

  • able to copy a sequence of letters or numbers correctly

  • 6 YEARS

  • able to complete complex puzzles

  • Therefore, by 6 years old, a child's fine motor skills have developed sufficiently enough to complete writing, dressing, and feeding tasks properly and efficiently. A child will now have adequate dexterity, bilateral coordination, and eye-hand coordination to complete writing and cutting tasks. Children will continue to develop and refine these skills, but the foundation is developed and laid down within the first six years. This is precisely WHY a child will need toys, games, and activities to practice and enhance these skills during his early childhood.

    If your infant/toddler/preschooler/kindergartener is unable to complete the age appropriate tasks, please understand the importance of getting help and using additional practice. These skills listed on this fine motor development chart are a CRITICAL guide to proper fine motor skill development. If your child is falling behind, please talk to his teacher or occupational therapist! They will thank you later. ;0)

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