Inclusive Resource on Sensorimotor Child Development for Parents and Teachers

Developing Dexterity


The difference between refined dexterity and clumsy manipulation has to do with the development of little muscles in the hands and fingers that strengthen with use as the child grows.  This is why a two year old’s hands look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the five year old’s hand looks quite well defined.  The muscles develop during the preschool and early elementary years.  If the child doesn’t play with manipulatives that require use of these muscles, they don’t develop.

There are three basic movements that need to be strengthened:

  • Thumb Abduction/Palmar Abduction: this is the thumb moving away from the palm.
  • The fingers are able to spread out and come together while they are held in an extended position.
  • The fingers are able to assume a rounded position; partially extended and partially flexed.


To Learn how to foster fine motor dexterity for each age group, click below



Preschool and Kindergarten

Elementary School and Beyond





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