HAND FUNCTION IN CHILDREN
Updated: May 31, 2022
WRITTEN BY SALLY HILLS-DAVIS, CHILDRENS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST AND KIRSTY BROCKLEHURST, CHILDRENS PHYSIOTHERAPIST. FOUNDERS OF THE PRACTICAL CHILD.
During the first year of life infants use their hands, first with both hands and then advance to one hand. Then by using the hands with increased skill and precision they refine their grasps as time progresses. This enables them to transfer objects from one hand to another and the releasing of objects deliberately into a pot or container. This skill develops and by the age of around twelve months some children start to place one brick on top of another.
At two, children may be seen to pick up small objects with accuracy with them being able to place them down neatly. They may now build a tower of six or seven cubes. Children start enjoying picture books now, recognising more detail on the pages, turning the pages over one page at a time.
At three, children may have acquired the skill of building a tower of nine or ten cubes and at three and a half may start building bridges from 3 cubes. They may have also developed the skill of holding the pencil between the thumb, the forefinger and the middle finger using a preferred hand. Hand dominance can vary greatly but a strong preference to use one hand more than the other before the age of one should indicate further need for professional help (Sheridan 1997)
At the age of four children may start to build towers of ten or more cubes. They can hold the pencil with good control and can start copying the shape of a cross and also letters such as O, T, H and V. They can draw a person with head, legs and trunk and usually arms and fingers.
As we have discussed before, hand skills progress for children through play. In our earlier blogs you will find examples of toys for your children to play with, to encourage your child to develop. Further to this, remember that this is merely a guide to what children may be doing at each age. Some children will be ahead of these timings and some will be behind. Each child should be cherished as an individual.