Fine Motor Skills

  1. The teacher says my child is not holding the pencil the correct way. What can I do to correct it?
    Development in prewriting skills begins around 1 year of age when children are exploring with different writing tools – crayons, markers while scribbling and doodling. As children grow, their grasp on the writing tools become more refined and controlled. An occupational therapist is able to observe how the child holds a pencil and assess his or her control and how it impacts writing. Besides determining the type of grasp the child utilizes, considerations will be given to the child’s endurance, pressure on paper and upper stability. Occupational therapy intervention may include fine motor strengthening, development of age-appropriate grasp and endurance training, so as to facilitate the ease and legibility of writing.

  2. My child does not like to color. When he colors, he just colors all over the paper. Sometimes he colors very hard and other times it is very light. What can I do?
    Coloring is a simple and fun activity that most children enjoy. However, when it is broken down, there are several components involved. Visual attention is required to locate the lines and boundaries between the different areas. Fine motor control is needed to color in different areas and still stay in the line. The ability to integrate sensory feedback from the paper is required to know how much pressure to apply when coloring. If the picture is large, endurance is required to finish coloring the entire area. Darkening or bolding the outline of the picture or figures with a marker increases the contrast and allows your child to become more visually aware of the spaces within. Coloring by numbers is a good way to way to limit the number of colors used (too many color pencils/crayon options may be distracting) and the numbers provide a visual cue to the boundaries and what colors to use where. An occupational therapist would be able to identify which specific area your child is struggling with and provide strategies to try at home.

  3. I cannot tell if my child is left-handed or right-handed. Sometimes he uses his left hand, but then he would switch half way. Should I force him to use one hand over the over?
    It depends on how old your child is. During the early years, children use both hands to explore the environment and to manipulate things around them. Hand dominance begins to develop around 2 to 3 years and should be established around 5 to 6 years of age. It is recommended to allow children to use both hands (and to switch between both) in the early years to promote fine motor dexterity, bilateral coordination and integration. Switching hands during activities may be a sign of fatigue. A good indication of hand dominance is the quality of manipulation and dexterousness of each hand. An occupational therapist can assess your child’s fine motor skills and development, then suggest different activities to try at home.

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