Gross Motor and Fine Motor Skills

So what are fine and gross motor skills and why are they important?  

Basically fine motor skills are the little movements we make with our hands and fingers, gross motor skills are the big body movements like running jumping skipping etc.  As a Reception teacher these skills indicate to me a readiness/maturity for learning and if your child has not mastered most of them they need support to fully develop them before I know they can cope with reading and writing.  I encourage development of these skills through our daily fitness program and through playful learning.  

As parents it is important to support your child to practice these skills at home, they are just as important as reading and writing.

These skills tend to be developmental.   Learning to walk your child had to develop the muscles by learning to roll over, sit up, support their body weight, crawl, pull themselves up, and then begin to take tentative steps – all part of learning to walk.   So please don’t worry if your child can’t do something EVERY CHILD DEVELOPS AT THEIR OWN RATE,  but be aware that encouragement and opportunity to practise will make a difference!

GROSS MOTOR – Can your child

  • skip
  • jump with two feet together
  • hop at least 5 times on right foot with out over balancing
  • hop at least 5 times on left foot with out over balancing
  • bounce and catch a large ball 5 times in a row
  • walk along a 2 metre line with feet to toe action – balanced
  • jump over a 30cm high ribbon and land on two feet and balance
  • able to cross the mid line – touch the right hand to a lifted left knee then the left hand to a lifted right knee
  • crossing the mid line by touching the left hand back to a raised right foot then the right hand to a raised left foot

FINE MOTOR – Can your child

  • stack at least 10 objects on top of each other i.e. blocks , cotton reels, can build a five block “bridge”
  • put a key in a lock and open it
  • manage buttons, zippers etc and can get dressed completely by themself
  • manage putting on socks and shoes (beginning to attempt shoe laces)
  • fold paper in half, making sure the edges meet
  • cut shapes beginning with a long a straight line along a wave line then simple shapes square, triangle, circle and finally complex shapes like cube, star, simple pictures finally developing sufficient bilateral hand coordination to cut out complex pictures, accurately following the outline
  • use a “tripod grasp” on writing utensils (thumb & tips of 1st two fingers) .  Your chid will use this grip only because small muscles of hand/ arm and shoulder have developed sufficiently
  • able to draw and copy a diagonal line 
  • able to correctly draw a cross
  • able to copy a sequence of letters or numbers correctly


These days the internet is a wonderful thing and so google ‘fine motor activities’ and you will have more than you can do.

To get you started you can

cut out pictures from magazines

play dough – stretching, rolling, kneeding 

pegging clothes pegs on the line

using tweezers to pick up small objects

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