Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Gail Bass


Child; Motor Activity; Motor Skills


The development of hand function is ongoing from infancy through adulthood. Hand function is especially important in the early years as a child prepares for school. As with all skills, the level of hand function can range from "excellent" to "average" to "clumsy" or "immature." Stability, strength, and endurance are key components of adequate hand skill development. These components are often areas of weakness in today's society of technology and passive activities. Creating an assessment designed specifically for the identification of skill acquisition, as it pertains to hand function and fine motor development, in the early childhood years will assist therapists in establishing an intervention plan for that child. In tum, this will facilitate the development of pre-writing, pre-cutting, and grasp or manipulation skills. Early childhood education programs are designed to ensure school readiness and it is an appropriate location to incorporate an early childhood fine motor assessment tool for the initial and ongoing analysis of a child's development in hand function and manipulation skills.

The methodology used to gather the information for the development of the early childhood fine motor assessment included an extensive review of literature and research regarding the developmental milestones and the ancillary factors contributing to fine motor development in children age eighteen months to five and one half years of age. Consultation and feedback pertaining to the assessment was obtained from professionals within the field of occupational therapy and early childhood special education. Practice trials of the early childhood fine motor assessment tool included one hospital based pediatric setting, one early childhood classroom setting, and one rural consultation based early childhood school setting.

The information gathered from an extensive literature review led to and supported the need to develop a quick, user-friendly early childhood fine motor assessment tool for children age eighteen months to five and one half years of age. The assessment tool is specifically intended to serve children in early childhood settings however, it may also be of benefit in the medical model setting. The assessment is specifically designed to address fine motor skill development in children 18 months to five and a half years. The tool can be administered in its entirety, in specific sections, or in segments to accommodate the early learner's attention span and specific needs. Information gathered during this process is meant to be used as baseline for comparative data, for treatment planning, conference reporting, and for classroom, caregiver, and/or parent education.

The Early Childhood Fine Motor Assessment Tool administration manual provides brief descriptions of each component to observe. The manual also provides age approximations, skill completion techniques, and observation cues to assist data collection. Each suggestion is intended only as that, as it is certain that each child develops individually and may utilize alternative successful techniques to achieve skills and each child may progress at varying speeds of development.