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Why Teach Fine Motor?

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Children explore the environment by moving and interacting with it. By manipulating objects and gathering valuable information about the physical characteristics, this eventually provides perceptual information necessary to make future judgments without the need for physical contact. Through a matching of perceptual and motor information, a child can interpret the characteristics of the environment more efficiently.

Young children at school spend approximately 60%-70% of their time completing fine-motor work or activities. Approximately 12% of children experience difficulties in this area.

Proficiency in fine-motor control allows the child to develop skills that will have consequences immediately and in later life.
  • Social Consequences. You cannot hide the way you move. Simple tasks such as tying laces or handling any utensils or objects can cause frustration and embarrassment. The child who has poor coordination begins to wonder why something that is natural and taken for granted is so difficult to perform.


  • Vocational Consequences. Because a number of vocations--including dentistry, secretarial work, cabinet making, and many others--have a large fine-motor component, the choices for the individual with fine-motor difficulties begin to diminish.


  • Academic Consequences. Quick and precise handling of concrete objects in mathematics and science becomes difficult. Precision and speed in handwriting and drawing tasks are minimized, affecting the amount of work being completed. When actions are not automatic, the available working memory and attentional space in the brain is taken up with concentrating on the movement rather than the concept being learned and practiced.


  • Psychological (Emotional) Consequences. Children with poor coordination often have unsuccessful experiences in physical activities. As a consequence they can develop frustration, a fear of failure, and rejection which in turn can lead to the development of a negative self-concept and avoidance behaviors. This can dramatically affect classroom performance not only in the fine-motor area but in other areas as well. Research tells us that a child's attitude toward learning in a particular area is at least as important as a child's ability in that area.


Excepted from Ready-to-Use Fine Motor Skills & Handwriting Activities for Young Children / Joanne M. Landy and Keith R. Burridge / The Center for Applied Research and Education / 1999

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