What Fine Motor Skills Should My Child Have?

Fine motor skills involve using the small muscles of the hand with support from the larger muscles to manipulate objects and to transfer them from one hand to another, and to coordinate visual information with hand movements.

Fine motor skills involve using precise hand movements to achieve results in threading beads, coloring, cutting, handwriting, etc. Fine motor skills are superimposed on gross motor skills, which are motor skills involving the large muscles of the body.

Below are common fine motor milestones for children at different ages. A more complete checklist of developmental milestones can be found on the Motor and Self-Help checklists.

2 years old

  • Imitates a vertical line
  • Imitates a circle
  • Uses a fine pincer grasp
  • Builds a train with small cubes

2 ½ years old

  • Imitates a horizontal line
  • Imitates 2 or more strokes for a cross
  • Strings large beads
  • Rolls clay into a snake shape

3 years old

  • Copies a circle
  • Imitates a cross
  • Snips paper
  • Puts together simple puzzles
  • Builds tower with 9-10 small blocks

3 ½ years old

  • Traces a diamond
  • Copies a cross
  • Shows hand preference
  • Places small pegs in holes on a board
  • Cuts on a line

4 years old

  • Copies square shapes
  • Draws a person with two to four body parts
  • Cuts on a line
  • Begins to copy some capital letters

5 years old

  • Copies a triangle and other geometric patterns
  • Prints some letters
  • Cuts out a circle on a line

6-7 years old

  • Draws a diamond
  • Cuts with a knife
  • Holds writing utensil with three fingers with movement in the fingers

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