Fine motor skill

Coordination of small muscles, particularly of the hands and fingers, with the eyes "Dexterity" redirects here. For other uses, see Dexterity (disambiguation). Writing is a fine motor skill as it requires subtle motions of the hand and fingers.

Fine motor skill (or dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronisation of hands and fingers—with the eyes. The complex levels of manual dexterity that humans exhibit can be attributed to and demonstrated in tasks controlled by the nervous system. Fine motor skills aid in the growth of intelligence and develop continuously throughout the stages of human development.


Types of motor skills

Motor skills are movements and actions of the bone structures. Typically, they are categorised into two groups: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are involved in movement and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts. They involve actions such as running, crawling and swimming. Fine motor skills are involved in smaller movements that occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. They involve smaller actions such as picking up objects between the thumb and finger, writing carefully, and even blinking. These two motor skills work together to provide coordination.

Developmental stages

Main article: Childhood development of fine motor skills

Through each developmental stage of a child’s life and throughout our lifetime motor skills gradually develop. They are first seen during a child’s development stages: infancy, toddler-hood, preschool and school age. "Basic” fine motor skills gradually develop and are typically mastered between the ages of 6-12 in children. These skills will keep developing with age, practice and the increased use of muscles while playing sports, playing an instrument, using the computer, and writing. If deemed necessary, occupational therapy can help improve overall fine motor skills.


The first motor skills, beginning from birth, are initially characterised by involuntary reflexes. The most notable involuntary reflex is the Darwinian reflex, a primitive reflex displayed in various newborn primates species. These involuntary muscle movements are temporary and often disappear after the first two months. After eight weeks, the infant will begin to voluntarily use their fing... more

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