Fine motor skills are an important part of a child’s daily life. Fine motor skills are those skills that allow us to button our shirts, zip our coats, write our name, hold a pencil and cut a piece of paper.

Difficulties in fine motor skills can impact all areas of a school day including writing, cutting, and taking care of fasteners on clothing. It can also impact home life, making it difficult to hold a spoon or fork and to get themselves dressed. If a child is struggling in these areas, they may start to dislike going school or have lower self-esteem as they compare themselves to their peers. A child may also be more dependent on their parents for simple tasks.

Children build their fine motor skills through play. Activities such as Play-Doh and LEGOs can help build hand strength and coordination in a child’s hand. Puzzles, mazes and dot-to-dot activities help to build visual motor skills along with fine motor coordination as they move puzzle pieces or control the pencil. Sometimes children’s fine motor skills do not develop as fast as their peers even with fine motor play opportunities, in these cases occupational therapy may be beneficial.

If a child is having difficulties with the following tasks, they may benefit from occupational therapy:

• completing a maze while staying within the lines

• writing letters on the line

• mimicking the size of letters when copying words or letters

• cutting out simple shapes on the line

• snapping pants after using the rest room or completing a zipper on their winter coat

• putting papers into a folder

• folding papers for art projects

• using their fork or spoon during meals or extremely messy while eating

• drawing simple shapes such as square, triangle, or arrows

• picking up small items such as game pieces, math manipulatives or coins

Our pediatric occupational therapists can use a variety of treatment strategies to work on fine motor difficulties including playing games, using a variety of fine motor manipulatives, and writing games and activities. During the month of September, our occupational therapists will be doing free fine motor screens for children 4-6 years of age.

If you have any questions or are interested in a free screen or a formal evaluation with pediatric occupational therapists, please call 218-641-7725.

OSPTI — Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Inc., has locations in Breckenridge and Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and Fargo and Hankinson, North Dakota. More info at

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