SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

What Fine Motor Skills Does Your Child Need for School Success?

Fine Motor Skills require the use of the smaller muscle groups like the hands, fingers, toes, and lips. Young children need to develop these skills for school success. Cutting, printing, coloring, pasting, writing stories, and speaking clearly are necessary to complete grade level work.

Your child should be able to accomplish the following activities, which use Fine Motor Skills, between the ages of 4 and 5:

  • zip a zipper
  • button a shirt, pants, or coat
  • build with blocks
  • cut on a thick, straight line
  • cut out a square or rectangle that an adult has traced 
  • put together simple, big piece puzzles
  • color within a large boundary
  • start to write the letters in their name (at this stage it might be all capital letters) 
  • begin to paste and glue objects to paper

Between ages 5 and 6, your child should have developed their Fine Motor Skills enough to do these activities:

  • tie their shoes
  • zip their own coats
  • print their name using one capital letter and the rest lowercase letters
  • trace and cut out a circle, triangle, and diamond shape
  • have a standard pencil and crayon grip (using the thumb and fingers, not a fist) 
  • start to show hand dominance (either right or left) 
  • write numbers 0 to 50 
  • paste or glue within a boundary
  • color within the lines

You will find simple games and activities that enhance these crucial skills in some of my past blog posts:

Simple Activities can Improve Fine Motor Skills

Improve Your Young Child's Drawing and Painting Skills  


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#1 Alan 2010-03-05 11:12
GripStrength and handwriting

During schooling there is a progression in the complexity of the functional task and the fine motor skill ability required to carry out the task. At the same time there is a progression in the concentration and attention to small details required to successfully complete the task.

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