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Foundations of Fine Motor Skills

As some of you may have seen for 2020 Connecting Together has been putting up posts about what the Foundations for Fine motor skills are and defining each stage. I wanted to write a blog about it so you can read a bit more information in a nice flow of information.

What are the Foundations of Fine motor skills?

Gross motor skills

- Core strength

- Postural stability

- Balance

- Crossing midline

- Bilateral coordination

Fine Motor skills

  • Bilateral integration

  • In hand manipulation

  • Attention

  • Hand strength

  • Prewriting skills

  • Holding a pen

  • Letter formations

Bilateral Integration

Bilateral Integration or coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body at one time, or with alternating movements in any task or action. We use bilateral coordination for walking, running, sports, climbing, using both hands, washing the dishes, reading, and fine motor skills. Even when we have a dominant hand which we write with, the supported hand is still used to hold our paper, help to follow the line or readings and helps maintain postural stability.

In hand manipulation

This is the ability for children to be able to move objects around in your hand, such as from palm to fingers. A good activity that works and shows in hand manipulation is posting coins, can the child hold coins in their palm and then post them with the same hand.


Of course, attention to any task if so important but this is something that gradually develops for our children. The more they are interested in a task the more attnetion they can hold and for longer, and they show more engagement in the activity. So it is really important to find engaging ways to work with your child, such as provide movement with the learning activity, use their favourite toy, character or superhero, and allow them to have choice. This will help them to sustain their attention longer.

Hand strength

Is the strengthening of muscles in your hand to ensure proper and deliberate execution in a task. Hand strengthening will support your child to develop muscles they need to hold a pen, to hang out the washing, and to engage in sports activities with their peers.

Prewriting skills

This is the beginning stages of writing, and for our children it is about practicing the shapes which they can achieve for their age. Such as vertical lines at 2 years old, horizontal at 3 years, diagonal and crosses at 3-4 years and circles from 4 years. This is a guideline and may be different depending on your child’s fine motor skills and development. These lines and shapes support letter formations and writing for your child. There are many ways to practice prewriting skills, from large upper body movements and hand movements drawing in sand, or shaving foam etc.

Letter formations

A child being able to write their letters is determined by their fine motor skills development, pencil grasp and prewriting skills. It is common for children to firstly learn to write the letters of their name. If a child’s struggles to copy letters as you have written or is showing some reversal of letters such as b and d, there may be a visual perceptual challenge present and support through your education systems is important.

Here is a copy of the Foundations of Fine Motor Skills Bundle.

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact for more information and ideas on how to help your child in these developmental areas.

Melissa Walker-Tate

Occupational Therapist

Connecting Together.

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