Question About Fine Motor Skills - Delayed in 5 Year Old

Updated on February 23, 2011
T.J. asks from Pittsboro, NC
16 answers

Hi All,

My 5 y/o son will be starting Kindergarten this Fall. Last month he took a Kindergarten readiness test and we received his results last week.

The test results were scored as what age he graded at. He scored at 6, yrs 6 months – 6 yrs, 9 months on all areas except Fine Motor Skills. He scored at 4 yrs, 6 months.

Should I be concerned? Can you please give me ideas on how I can work with him on this?

Thank you in advance.

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So What Happened?

thanks all for the great suggestions. I feel a whole lot better and will stop fretting about it! This is a really helpful site and I appreciate you taking the time.

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answers from Eugene on

I wouldn't be concerned at all. For one thing, he is a boy and they lag a little behind the girls in fine motor skills. Another reason not to worry is that he is so far ahead in the other areas. I've noticed kids who are more advanced in one area will be a bit behind in others. I think it is simply because there is only so much time in one day to develop all these skills so it takes a while to catch up in some areas.

My recommendation for developing fine motor skills is not to work on it but to play with it. Draw, do craft projects together, cut, paste, color, decorate cookies. Nothing too precise, just let him enjoy creating with his hands. Do you have a piano or keyboard? Making music on one is another fun way to develop good hand/eye coordination.

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answers from Phoenix on

It was very rare that I let my son use scissors in the house then when I was in his preschool class I saw how far behind he was compared to the other kids. I felt terrible. I started practicing every day with him. I would drawer shapes or lines on paper and have him cut them out. Another thing that might be good is legos. You have to be nimble to get them together and apart. I spoke to his teacher, and she told me that as long as I keep working with him he will be up to speed soon. I definitely see a difference. I was in class the other day and was impressed at his cutting skills.

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answers from New York on

He only scored 6 months behind his current age. You have to understand that these tests are not the word of God. If you gave him this test next week he would probably have a slightly different score. It depends on his mood, his current abilities, the tester, the setting, ect. You can encourage his fine moter skills with drawing and building toys. No, do not need to be concerned.

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answers from Nashville on

i would look into it only because there is such a differance in the low score. when i was a child i tested high in everything except one and there was a pretty good differance and i had reading problems. good luck. he may have just been off that day. R.

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answers from Columbus on

There's lots you can do to help him between now and when he starts school.

Check out these 2 sites for some suggestions (most or all of which you can make into something fun/a game):

If you work on it over the next 6 months, I bet he'll be fine. And if not, then they probably will be able to provide some therapy in school for him.

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answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't be concerned, because it is so close to his age. Had he scored YEARS younger than his actual age.... then I might be concerned.

having said that - definitely time to start letting him button up his own coat, tie his own shoes, zip his own pants etc.
They sell 'lacing cards' at craft stores and at some educational stores.

I don't anything about a boy..... but my daughter LOVED to latch hook. It's pretty easy - a 5 year old could definitely do it. I know they have some more masculine patterns (my daughter did a scooby doo one that we framed).

What are his interests? If he likes arts and crafts definitely encourage this. Beadwork? he could help you make 'gifts' since he's probably not into jewlery (although no gender bias here, whatever he likes!).

I think he can also begin to help you with ripping up lettuce for salad. Bringing the silverware to the table and setting it at the places. He is definitely old enough to sort his laundry - the movement of sorting into piles will help his fine motor skills.

Also - games like Jenga - where he has to pick up pieces with his hands and then manipulate the pieces will help him. Also if he likes jigsaw puzzles.

Oh- legos and model airplanes would be great (no boys, so it took me a while to think of that one!)

Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Make games for him, in addition to the normal coloring and cutting sorts of things. This can be done very cheap!

I do home daycare and my kids fave fave things to do are my muffin tin games and milk/pop caps games. I went to the dollar store, bought muffin tins...a pack of colored pencil top erasers, a few packs of colored paper clips, some colored pom get the idea. All a dollar. Also a pack of colored construction paper. Use glue, rubber cement, etc (I use glue dots/zots for longevity in daycare)..and put a color of construction paper in each muffin tin section, to coordinate with the colors of your pom poms, erasers or whatever you got that are small items. You are making a sorting game.

By sorting a pile of 50 or so of these items, they have to use the small pincer grasp to pick them up. This develops the small hand muscles that eventually assist all of us with proper pencil holding and scissor holding.

I also use old formula cans (easily decoupaged with water/glue and ripped up tissue paper or wrapping paper, then sprayed with hairspray for a little seal)....then I cut slits in the top of the can cover. I have saved pop caps, milk caps, juice jug, Gatorade and other jug lids for a long time (I always am saving them!!), and I let them sort or just put them in like large pennies.....and you can work your way to actual coins (I can't really do with my 2/3 year old daycare kids for safety reasons with infants around)...

Kids love to use tweezers too to pick up things like pom poms for games like this! Things with beads are good too (counting them, sorting them, etc)

Good luck and don't fret alot about it. Just being aware of it, you will find tons of things you already do...just do them a little more!

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answers from New York on

Dont stress but do work on playing games etc to improve his skills
My son was like yours and is still weak in that area despite his teachers and I working with him
here's a few more suggestions:
use salad tongs to pick up pom poms (fun!)
chalk on a chalkboard, different from coloring on paper because the board is perpendicular
Staples has cute books for cutting and drawing (I got my son the Toddler scissor skills book when he was 4 1/2 and there was a how to draw book,)

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answers from Nashville on

You received some great suggestions already. I just wanted to add that my son will be 5 in June. He really loves putting together the Hero Factory legos. The age on the legos is 6-12 but the smaller sets are 17-19 pieces which are manageable for a 5 year old and this will help him. You can buy them for $7-8. I noticed when my son first got them, he actually had some trouble putting the pieces together (he needed to use a little more stength) but I helped him and quickly he learned how to do it. I think they are great for developing motor skills as well as learning to follow directions on how to put them together.

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answers from Raleigh on

i wouldn't be concerned. fine motor skills in boys are often behind girls. my oldest had a supposed delay in his gross motor skills because he didn't know how to skip when he was 4 (he'd never felt the need to skip). if they tested your son for something he's never done before, obviously his score would be lower. no worries- he'll learn!

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answers from Raleigh on

My daugher is in Kindergarten and is delayed with her fine motor skills. We are working with her writing with pencils, zipping things, snapping things etc. which helps them with fine motor. They have also told us that building those muscles helps as well so we have her enrolled in gymnastics (anything that puts pressure on the hands) seems to help build the muscles. Good luck to you and your son. I am sure he can catch up with a little extra help.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My son had a small fine motor delay before Kindergarten--pointed out by his re-school teachers--awkwardness grasping pencil, crayon, etc.
Best thing to do--have your pediatrician Rx an eval & get him into OT. Even one hour per week will provide huge results.
Google fine motor skills and you will see a TON of activities for strengthening fine motor--play doh, pick up & put pennies in can one hand only) crumple tissue paper/newspaper sheets with one hand into balls, pick up sticks, mazes with a pencil, etc. Problem is, sometimes kids don't "perform" as diligently as for an OT person.....I was amazed at what his therapist accomplished in an hour verses the agony of ME getting him to do it!

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answers from Knoxville on

Fine motor skills are those you use when writing. Give him different size crayons, pencils, pens and encourage him to write, draw, and create.

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answers from Appleton on

The fine motor skills will be needed for coloring and learning to write. Have him color a couple of times a day working hard to stay within the lines. Teach him to write the alphabet, both lower case and uppercase letters. Also look for toys that require him to screw and unscrew things like nuts and bolts. And motions like plugging and unplugging a cord from a socket, no not real electric cords. Anything that makes him use his fingers and hands a lot and to learn how to control them.
I am not familiar with any video games but I have heard that they are also very good for fine muscle skills

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answers from Sherman on

I would not be concerned at all! Boys are usually a tad behind on their fine motor skills.

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answers from Jacksonville on

When I taught kdg. I used to put water in trigger-type spray bottles and let the kids squirt away outside at recess. The motion used to spray the water is great for strenghthening little hand muscles. Create games with play dough where he really needs to squeeze or pinch the dough. This will build muscles too. Have him use clothespins or tweezers to pick up cottonballs or pom-poms. Encourage writing practice using a variety of writing utensils for added interest. Don't worry. He'll be just fine!

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