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Fine Motor Skills Are Essential For Learning: Checklist For 3 To 5 Years Old
PHOTO BY @clarvaldecantos and @danieloveslife via Instagram
  • Editor’s note: Your kids are not likely to go to school physically anytime soon because of COVID-19. But it doesn’t mean a school is out of the question. You will find options on homeschool, blended learning, and distance education on Smart Parenting Classroom. But is your child ready for preschool?

    School readiness very much applies even in a remote setup. And with the global health crisis, parents need to take an even more active role in assessing their child. One of the signs of school readiness is fine motor skills.

    In a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article, fine motor skills are defined as the ability to make movements using the small muscles the hands and wrists. Kids naturally come around to develop these fine as they grow, but they need our help to develop these milestones.

    “[Fine motor skills] are essential not only to help children become more independent in daily tasks but crucial when they begin preschool.”

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    Signs of fine motor skills

    Aside from showing interest in toys or objects, one of the first signs of motor skills is when kids can use their hands and fingers competently. They play with toys as they were intended. For example, they put puzzle pieces back on board, stack blocks to make a tower, put shapes into sorter. They can also use different writing implements or scissors.

    Why are fine motor skills essential? Many children today are used to swiping on screens, that they aren’t developing the fine motor skills necessary for writing, exploring materials, or art and music.


    Fine motor skills checklist

    Here is a list of fine motor skills for 3 to 5-year-olds by a team of occupational therapists of Growing Hands-On Kids. This is a useful guide for parents to see how they can support their children’s fine motor development.

    3 years old

    1. Can draw a circle after being shown model
    2. Cuts a piece of paper in half
    3. Copies prewriting lines of vertical, horizontal, and circle shapes
    4. Laces a card
    5. Can unbutton large buttons
    6. Can cut a long and wide line with 1/2″ accuracy
    7. Will string 1/2 inch beads
    8. Sorts objects
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    4 years old

    1. Can copy cross shapes, right and left oblique lines “/” “”, square and X shapes
    2. Can touch the tip of each finger to their thumb
    3. Can color within a picture with no more than 1/4″ deviations from the coloring lines
    4. Can cut big circles with scissors
    5. Can move the paper while cutting along a line
    6. Completes puzzles of 4-5 pieces
    7. Can use a fork correctly
    8. Can get dressed and undressed without help
    9. Uses dominate hand

    5 years old

    1. Grasps a pencil correctly
    2. Begins to print their name
    3. Copies a triangle shape
    4. Cuts out a circle
    5. Opens a lock with a key
    6. Draw a diamond shape when given a model
    7. Draws a person with at least 6 different body parts
    8. Can tie their shoes.
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    Parents should take note that tasks that develop eye-hand coordination also benefit attention and writing skills.

    How else can you help? Keep all gadgets away from your child. Give them activities where they need to use their hands, such as water play, playdough, painting, playing with blocks, puzzles, stacking toys, stringing toys, and shape sorters.

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    Barbara Server-Veloso is known as Teacher Thumby in her preschool, Toddlers Unlimited, and Ms. Thumby in her grade school, Thinkers Unlimited, Alabang. She is also a partner in Spark Discovery Center in Jupiter Street, Makati where she teaches the Baby and Me Class. Teacher Thumby has a Masters degree from the University of the Philippines in Family Life and Child Development. She has been teaching since 1993. She is also the mother of Lucas and Verena.

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