The development of fine and gross motor skills

From baby to pre-schooler

If you are using your fine motor skills, you are able to coordinate your brain and the muscles in your hands to do exactly what you want. You have muscles in your hands, wrists, fingers, feet and toes. Children are not born with fine motor or co-ordination skills. This is something they need to work on and develop as they grow. Gross motor skills are the ability to stand up, control your arms and legs, walk, run, balancing and climbing. You must have gross motor skills in order to coordinate with your brain to control the bigger muscles in your body. All of the muscles in the body should be exercised and encouraged to develop from very early on. Children are not born with such skills therefore these have to be taught and encouraged. Below we have put together a quick guide for the fine and gross motor milestones your child will cross as they grow from baby to preschooler. Please remember each and every child develops differently so don’t be alarmed if your little one has not reached a certain milestone shown below. These things take a lots of practice, patience and persistence.

3 – 6 months

  • Watches hands, is able to move hands to mouth
  • Begins to bat at objects
  • Holds a rattle or teething toy in hand
  • Begins rolling from stomach to back
  • Is able to sit with little support
  • Holding head up him/herself

6 – 9 months

  • Transfers objects between hands
  • Is able to feed him/herself finger foods
  • Begins pulling him/herself up to stand against furniture
  • Can crawl
  • Is able to mimic walking with feet when supported

9 – 18 months

  • Can make marks on paper
  • Builds tower using 2 – 3 blocks
  • Is able to drink from a cup
  • Is able to feed him/herself using a spoon and fork
  • Stands alone without support
  • Walks without support

18 months – 2 years

  • Scribbles on paper and draws lines
  • Is able to climb steps with support
  • Throws and catches a ball
  • Builds tower using 4 – 5 blocks
  • Is able to thread beads onto string
  • Can turn knobs and open cabinets/drawers

2 – 3 years

  • Able to undress him/herself
  • Likes to help get him/herself dressed
  • Kicks a ball
  • Is able to cut along a line
  • Can button/unbutton by him/herself
  • Can now climb steps without support
  • Rides a tricycle
  • Likes to dance and jump around to music
  • Able to balance on one foot for a few seconds

3 – 4 years

  • Tries to copy drawing and shapes
  • Uses tripod pencil grasp when using a pencil
  • Is able to write some letters
  • Hops on 1 leg, balances on 1 leg
  • Able to jump forward at least 8 times before losing balance
  • Coordination is much better, is able to catch a ball