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Hand coordination: 36-48 months

little girl brushing her teeth

Key points:

  1. Children around the age of four develop increased control over their fine motor skills, including hand coordination and using utensils.
  2. Development milestones for this age group include being able to tie shoelaces, cut along straight lines, and “write” with a pencil.
  3. Parents can support their children’s fine motor skill development through activities such as practicing getting dressed independently, practicing brushing teeth together, and creating collages by cutting and pasting pictures. Continual practice is important for strengthening these skills.

You’ve watched your child go from uncontrolled hand movements to bringing objects to the middle part of their body, and from picking up small objects to using a crayon to scribble. By this time, your little one has probably gained so much control over their small muscles that they are now learning to move with confidence. This a crucial time to refine their fine motor skills and to keep practicing them!

What can you expect?

  • They will probably tie their shoelaces or is getting close to accomplishing this.
  • They’ll use scissors with much more naturality.
  • They might be able to “write” with a pencil, even if they don’t know any words yet. Their scribbles have improved a lot.

How can you support their hand coordination development?

  • Let them open drawers when they are getting dressed. You might even ask them, as a favor, to bring you something from a drawer, making them feel special and helpful.
  • As you practice getting ready, ask them to help you out and pick up their clothes. This will foster muscle control, as well as their self-care and independence skills.
  • By this time, they might be able to cut straight lines drawn on paper, so you can practice drawing some lines and then help them follow them using the scissors.
  • They might not be able to write their name yet, but you can write it on a piece of paper and have them trace it over with different colors. They will be so excited to be writing!
  • You can also encourage them to brush their teeth while you supervise or even practice it with them at the same time. Remember your little one loves imitating you! Plus, this can also be a great way to foster their hygiene and independence skills.
  • They might not be able to tie their shoelaces yet, but you can model how to do it and practice it together.
  • When eating, you can let them serve and pick their own food using safe utensils. This can contribute to their wrist rotation and finger control.
  • Another activity that can foster these skills is to practice cutting and pasting pictures to make a collage. Make it a family activity and invite everyone to participate!

Many of your child’s motor skills are helping them develop future writing skills, which will also contribute to their language comprehension and production later on. It’s very important that when they accomplish a new skill, they continue practicing it. When we leave our skills unused, our ability to perform some tasks can weaken. Don’t hesitate to practice hand coordination every day!

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