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If you've been told that your Reception-age DC's fine motor skills are poor,

(20 Posts)
ttalloo Wed 19-Oct-11 22:31:15

then have you seen an improvement after working on them with him/her? If so, how long did it take, and what worked best for your DC?

I ask because DS1's teacher told us today at Parents' Evening that he is finding holding a pencil difficult (which we already knew) and that in PE he is not co-ordinated and struggles with his balance (which we also knew). Up until this evening we'd hoped it was just one of those things that he would get the hang of, but his teacher said that he will need to attend an after-school club to help with his gross motor skills, and we need to work on his fine motor skills at home.

I found an incredibly useful list of things to do with DS1 on another, much older thread, posted by mrz (thank you, should you happen to be reading this!), but I'm just feeling a bit anxious now about what to do for the best. His teacher said that with effort on our and her part he should be much improved by the end of Reception, assuming this is a developmental problem rather than a case of dyspraxia, but I don't know if we should see our GP and get him referred (but to whom?). And what if he's not OK by July?

Any experience of dealing with this problem, whether good or bad, would be much appreciated.

ttalloo Wed 19-Oct-11 23:51:26


MumblingAndBloodyRagDoll Thu 20-Oct-11 01:31:29

Please don't stress nephew was diagnosed Dyspraxic at around 6 and he's 23 now and has a very good degree and captains the soccer club.

I relate to the worrying as I did SO much of it over my DD (7) and I sill do to some DD has to have extra maths help....and in reception they thought she had some kind of developmental problem...she didn't..she was just summer born and is the type to catch on to things after other kids sometimes! she got excellent results in her SATS)

Don't worry about July! He may be better at things by then or not...but he won't go without help and he wont be the only one. Early interventions like the PE club are so's lucky we have these things.

Why not go to the wont hurt, the GP may or may not refer you to someone but it does sound like the school are on to him and will help hm all they can.

IS his eyesight ok?

ChippingInToThePumpkinLantern Thu 20-Oct-11 01:46:31

I would take him to the Drs - it could be any of a number of things affecting his balance.

He wont be the only reception aged child to have fine motor skills problems.

There are loads of things you can do to help him with all of his motor skills - both gross & fine, that are fun and he wont even know he's working on them smile

Just out of interest - did he like spending time on his tummy as a baby?

aleene Thu 20-Oct-11 02:15:26

he can be referred to the Occupational Therapy dept for an assessment. They can offer tips to help too.

madwomanintheattic Thu 20-Oct-11 03:02:36

yy agree with aleene. gp can refer to ot for assessment and therapy, but they will only do the stuff on mrz's list anyway (and the rest of the fine motor threads). school sound amazingly proactive if they have a gross motor skills after school club!

whether dyspraxia or no, intervention sooner rather than later is better.

ttalloo Thu 20-Oct-11 06:18:33

Thank you so much for your responses - and all in the middle of the night, too!

Given what you all say, I will make an appointment for DS1 to see the doctor and see what additional help is available for him. The school has also recommended that he goes to the football after-school club as well, and in the meantime we'll be taking him to the park religiously (in winter, shudder), and doing the activities on mrz's list.

He did like spending time on his tummy as a baby, chipping, but he was late to walk (16 months) and has always been physically cautious/nervous - for example, his preferred slide at the park is still the baby one (he'll be five in February), and he's only developed the confidence to do this by himself in the last six months.

I had his eyesight checked, mumbling, in the summer, and it was fine. He does suffer from glue ear, though, which can affect his balance, but obviously that wouldn't have an effect on his fine motor skills.

I feel quite stunned, to be honest, at what the teacher said - really, I've known for a long time that there is a problem here, but I kept telling myself that the reason he can't hold a pencil is because I'm not teaching him properly, or he's not interested. And I feel awful for all the times I've been cross with him for being unable to undo/do up his buttons, when all along the poor thing wasn't physically capable.

EttiKetti Thu 20-Oct-11 07:01:16

My middle child had fine motor skill problems at the same age. She is 9 now and still quite messy presentation wise. We've done things like threading beads and cards, playing with small things like Hama beads, sewing, making tiny things out of play doh and its helped a lot. I can't help with the gross motorskills stuff, but we put the fine part down to the fact she's always been active and outdoorsy, not one to sit and do fiddly play.

EdithWeston Thu 20-Oct-11 07:13:42

I think your teacher is muddled, and so getting a second opinion may help you.

Lack of co-ordination/balance in PE concerns gross motor skills: pencil control uses fine motor skills. So if she was concerned only about his fine motor skills, it means that his PE performance falls within normal.

If you choose the referral route, whilst you are waiting you might like to try some activities which are generally considered beneficial. These include anything you can think of which involves the same sets of muscles as writing: drawing, colouring in, painting, threading, picking up beads with tweezers - anything fiddly really. (Have you got "Operation"?)

For wider co-ordination, then things to try at home include dancing, throwing games and hopping games (using each leg in turn).

One think that (sort of) transitions between the two is painting/writing using a huge paintbrush (if you can get one of the fat Chinese ones, they're brilliant for this), then write in huge letters using the whole arm. And over time gradually reduce the size.

ttalloo Thu 20-Oct-11 07:54:51

edithweston, his teacher was concerned about both - he's not co-ordinated or balanced in PE, and his pencil control is weak. She said that improving his gross motor skills through football and other physical activities would help improve his fine motor skills too, although we obviously have to work on those as well.

But I will get a second opinion, and an assessment of his abilities so that we know what we are dealing with. In the meantime, Operation and Bedbugs are being ordered today - which will please him no end, I'm sure.

meanmomma Thu 20-Oct-11 08:08:43

Although it sounds contradictory, if you can find a good and patient music teacher (like me!) it can really help with fine motor control to learn an instrument. I teach violin and I have some kids who struggle but love the sound they make and are definitely improving and benefitting from the exercise that holding the bow or whatever gives them. I tell all my kids that there is no rush.
I taught my middle DS to play because he was hopelessly unco-ordinated as a kid, couldn't kick a football without falling over until he was about 9. Being good at violin was good for his self-esteem when the PE staff enjoyed laughing at him sad

LIZS Thu 20-Oct-11 08:22:40

Ask gp for a referral , by the time it comes round (we saw paed quickly but 18month wait for ot) it may have improved but by then you'd at least know if he needed further help. Use the play based activities to make it fun. Don't think of July as a deadline, just an opportuntity to review before he starts Year 1.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Oct-11 11:53:35

<testing bump>

ChippingInToThePumpkinLantern Thu 20-Oct-11 12:11:45

Helen - there are better ways to test for a bump you know wink

madwomanintheattic Thu 20-Oct-11 14:21:10

meanmomma - we bought dd2 a keyboard at 3 to help with her fine motor grin. she wants to learn guitar, but i am unconvinced - she's just 8 and i understand that's quite young for nt kids, let alone those with a developmental issue - ideas?
<apols for small hijack>

you need 'ot' - 'occupational therapy' referral, op, if you get to the gp. sometimes the waiting list is veeeeery long anyway, so you might as well get on it whilst you do the other stuff. grin

meanmomma Thu 20-Oct-11 18:41:38

In the hands of the right teacher it can really help but... needs to be a teacher who is not just interested in little prodigies! Send me a PM if you like to tell me whereabouts you are and I will see if I know anyone nearby.

shoots Thu 20-Oct-11 19:47:53

My DD is in reception and has delays to fine and gross motor skills. She can't hold a pen properly yet and also walked late and struggles with her balance - she can't hop or stand on one leg very easily. We have been told to help her with strengthening her core muscles through swimming and horse riding etc as this will improve her hand function for writing and drawing/fine motor. She has already had an OT assessment and we got some exercises. The school are putting her on a special OT type of programme to help with some other children. We don't have any kind of diagnosis but she doesn't seem to have any other dyspraxic symptoms.

I'm going to chase up that thread too OP - sounds useful!!

PandaNot Thu 20-Oct-11 20:05:52

Many, many Reception age children (especially boys) have motor skill 'difficulties' which for the most part turn out just to be developmental and improve along normal developmental pathways perfectly given time. An OT assessment will identify whether his development is 'typical' or 'disordered' and therefore whether he needs any particular input. But agreeing with the other posters - get on the OT list now!

alana39 Thu 20-Oct-11 23:09:36

I would second getting referred for OT. DS2 was referred after reception teachers suggested it and the OT was fantastic - she did far more than I could albeit in a limited number of sessions. It made a huge difference (as did a subsequent eye test and the very thick glasses that followed, so I would also recommend a visit to the opticians if you haven't done that already).

ttalloo Fri 21-Oct-11 19:36:04

shoot, here is the link to the very useful thread with a comprehensive list of things to do to improve fine and gross motor skills, in case you haven't been able to find it yet:

Thanks a lot for all the advice, ladies. I didn't even know what to ask the GP for, but I feel much more informed, and calmer too.

meanmomma, I'm intrigued by the idea of using music lessons to improve fine motor skills - does this work, then, even if the child has no musical talent?

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