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Fine Motor Skills and Literacy

Fine Motor Skills and Literacy

Did you know that strengthening your child’s fine motor skills can help prepare them to learn to write and read?

Fine motor skills are movements that require your child to use the smaller muscles in their fingers and hands in order to do precise tasks. Such movements also require focus, hand-eye coordination, and an awareness of one’s body in relation to the world around them (proprioception). When your baby grasps cereal or your toddler holds a crayon, they are practicing all of these things.

While the importance of fine motor skills to your child’s development might be obvious from a practical standpoint, their connection to literacy is a mystery researchers are still trying to solve.

Despite noticing a correlation between the two, they have not yet been able to identify the exact nature of the relationship. 

Many theories center around the way in which fine motor skills – and their related competencies such as focus, coordination, and proprioception – are necessary for children to grasp writing utensils, form shapes and letters, and gain more precise control over their movements. Mastering these tasks allows children to write, and writing and reading go hand-in-hand.

Everyday literacy

While scientists try to figure out exactly how and why fine motor skills support emergent literacy development, parents and caregivers can do a lot of simple, fun things to strengthen children’s growth in this area:

  • Place baby-safe foods such as yogurt drops or puffs on their tray for them to pick up on their own
  • Give toddlers things they can tear such as scrap papers, newspaper or tissues
  • Provide toys that require use of fine motor skills, including: play dough, push & pull toys, wooden trains, small cars, stackers, or peg/knob puzzles

If you need some new ideas or materials, come to the library and explore our J Library of Things, try our wooden puzzles, or attend a storytime session weekdays at 10a!

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