Graphomotor Skills: What It Is And How To Help Children Develop It

Graphomotor skills

Writing is one of the most important human advances of all time. Not in vain does it allow us to transmit our knowledge and different data through time and space, reproduce our thoughts and make them reach others in a precise way. But the ability to read and write does not appear out of nowhere.

It is something that we have to learn throughout life. Regarding writing, it requires, in addition to the capacity for symbolization, the ability to perform a series of precise movements; that is, graphomotor skills.

Graphomotor skills encompass the complex coordination of fine motor movements and cognitive processes involved in producing written language. These skills involve the ability to manipulate writing instruments, form letters and shapes, and control the speed and fluidity of handwriting. In this article, we delve into the nature of graphomotor skills, their developmental trajectory, and their significance for academic achievement and functional independence.

What is graphomotor skills?

Graphomotor skills are understood as the set of manual movements required and necessary to be able to write. These movements would be included in fine motor development, the ability to mobilize hands and fingers in a coordinated manner. Thus, graphomotor skills are a skill that requires a high level of precision and control which must be acquired little by little with practice throughout life.

It is a capacity that requires the development and coordination of both motor and perceptual aspects. Graphomotor skills would begin in the first childhood strokes, making it necessary for the minor to gradually master space and instruments. It is essential that the little one first learns the pincer movements and grab smaller and smaller objects.

The correct development of graphomotor skills also implies the learning of elements that are not only graphic: differentiating between elements, having the capacity for representation and being able to have an orientation regarding directions are fundamental aspects in the development of writing ability.

As time goes by, these processes become automated, something that allows us to deepen and improve them. the level of finesse and precision necessary for correct writing.

Components of Graphomotor Skills

Fine Motor Coordination

Graphomotor skills rely on precise coordination of the small muscles of the hand and fingers to manipulate writing instruments and form legible letters and symbols. Fine motor coordination involves intricate movements such as grasping, pinching, and manipulating writing utensils with precision and control.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is essential for guiding the movements of the hand and fingers in response to visual stimuli and spatial cues. Effective hand-eye coordination allows individuals to track the position of writing instruments, monitor the alignment of letters and words on the page, and adjust hand movements accordingly to maintain legibility and spatial organization.

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Motor Planning and Execution

Motor planning and execution involve the ability to plan, sequence, and execute the sequence of movements required to produce written language. This includes planning the formation of letters and words, coordinating the sequence of strokes, and executing movements with appropriate speed, pressure, and directionality.

Developmental Trajectory of Graphomotor Skills

Early Childhood

In early childhood, children begin to develop basic graphomotor skills through activities such as scribbling, drawing, and tracing shapes. As they gain control over their hand and finger movements, they progress from making random marks to producing recognizable forms and letters.

Elementary School Years

During the elementary school years, children refine their graphomotor skills through handwriting instruction and practice. They learn to form letters and numbers with greater accuracy and consistency, develop fluency in writing sentences and paragraphs, and acquire skills such as letter spacing, sizing, and alignment.

Adolescence and Adulthood

Throughout adolescence and adulthood, individuals continue to refine and consolidate their graphomotor skills through continued practice and exposure to written language tasks. They develop their own unique handwriting styles, adapt their writing techniques to different writing surfaces and instruments, and utilize technology to augment and support their written communication.

Importance of Graphomotor Skills

Academic Achievement

Graphomotor skills play a critical role in academic achievement, particularly in tasks that require written expression and communication. Proficient handwriting skills facilitate note-taking, essay writing, and test-taking, enabling students to convey their thoughts and ideas clearly and efficiently.

Functional Independence

In addition to academic success, graphomotor skills are essential for functional independence in daily life. Tasks such as completing forms, writing shopping lists, and taking notes require the ability to produce legible handwriting quickly and accurately. Strong graphomotor skills enhance individuals’ ability to participate fully in educational, vocational, and social activities.

Assessment and Intervention


Assessment of graphomotor skills typically involves evaluating handwriting quality, speed, fluency, and legibility across various writing tasks and contexts. Standardized assessment tools such as the Minnesota Handwriting Assessment and the Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting are commonly used to assess graphomotor proficiency and identify areas of strength and weakness.


Intervention strategies for improving graphomotor skills may include direct instruction in handwriting techniques, motor skill development activities, and accommodations such as adaptive writing tools and technology. Occupational therapists play a key role in designing individualized intervention plans to address specific graphomotor challenges and support individuals in achieving their functional writing goals.

Development of this skill

As we have said, graphomotor skills do not appear out of nowhere: it requires a complex learning process through which each of us learns to master the movements necessary for writing.

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It could be considered that the first attempts at graphic expression would begin around the age of one and a half, moment when the first scribbles usually begin to appear The child acts rather on impulse and with total lack of control, without eye-manual coordination and using the entire arm.

Later, a little before the age of two, he begins to use his elbow to make strokes (although still without coordinating his eye and hand) and to make circular scribbles. After that, little by little the child will increase control over wrist and hand strength, as well as following the movement of your hand with your eyes. The first independent strokes begin to appear.

From the age of three, there is an attempt to control the movement of the hand and coordinate it to make a directed stroke. The child is able to combine colors and can focus the movement in such a way that it does not leave the paper, in addition to trying to identify something in the drawing. Around the age of four, a pre-schematic stage begins in which the child begins to make a drawing that symbolizes a specific element to represent. That is, he draws a specific element such as a house, a person or an animal, but he carries them out in a schematic way.

From this point until six years of age, we will learn to add details to the previous elements. It would also enter a presyllabic stage in which the pictorial drawings begin to differentiate themselves from the strokes that are intended to represent letters or numbers.

Initially these are disorganized lines separated from each other, but little by little they are organized and aligned in such a way that they can be read (although initially only the minor himself would understand what it means).

After that, we enter a moment of syllabic writing, in which each spelling begins to represent a specific syllable or phoneme Subsequently, as we improve the stroke and the capacity for symbolization, a transition stage occurs towards alphabetic writing, in which each spelling ends up corresponding to a phoneme. As the years go by, the handwriting will improve and smaller, more precise spellings will be possible.

Strategies for Developing Graphomotor Skills

Parents, teachers, and caregivers can implement various strategies and activities to support children in developing graphomotor skills:

  1. Pre-Writing Exercises: Engage children in activities that promote hand-eye coordination and fine motor control, such as tracing lines, shapes, and patterns.
  2. Gross Motor Activities: Encourage activities that strengthen arm and shoulder muscles, such as climbing, swinging, and playing catch, as they support the development of fine motor skills.
  3. Manipulative Play: Provide toys and materials that require manipulation and manipulation, such as building blocks, puzzles, and playdough, to develop hand strength and coordination.
  4. Handwriting Practice: Offer regular opportunities for children to practice handwriting using appropriate writing tools and paper. Start with large, simple strokes and gradually progress to more complex letters and words.
  5. Multisensory Approaches: Incorporate multisensory techniques, such as finger painting, sandpaper letters, and sensory writing trays, to engage multiple senses and enhance learning.
  6. Modeling and Demonstration: Demonstrate proper handwriting techniques and posture, and provide feedback and encouragement as children practice.
  7. Breaks and Relaxation: Allow for breaks during writing activities to prevent fatigue and frustration. Encourage relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or stretching, to reduce tension.
  8. Consistency and Patience: Recognize that developing graphomotor skills takes time and practice. Be patient and supportive, celebrating progress and effort along the way.
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How to enhance graphomotor skills?

Graphomotor skills are a fundamental skill for being able to write and draw, in addition to contributing to increasing precision and manual ability to do different tasks. It is therefore recommended try to reinforce it through different activities The practice of calligraphy can help, but work in the graphomotor field does not only involve this type of activities but can also be approached from a more playful perspective.

Stimulates play behavior and the possibility of drawing, not only with colored pencils but also with elements such as paint or sand, is something essential. But training graphomotor skills does not only involve painting and coloring, but all those activities that require a certain level of fine motor skills also contribute to improving it.

Things like tying bows, construction games, play dough, folding, cutting with scissors, or even throwing objects allow you to improve eye-hand coordination If the child likes it, playing a musical instrument (for example a flute or piano) is also useful. Other games such as following a musical rhythm with clapping, symbolic and role-playing and imitation of people, animals and objects (for example the movie game is usually useful and fun at the same time) also allow improving manual dexterity and thus enhance graphomotor skills.

But it is not only about the child doing things, but also about valuing them. For this, family support is essential; actively participating in this learning and also congratulating him on his achievements will make the minor feel more secure and valued. Furthermore, sharing with him moments in which these games and activities are seen as something positive and enjoyable are fundamental and can strengthen the mother/father-child bond in addition to improving the predisposition towards writing and learning about it.

Graphomotor skills are integral to the production of written language and play a vital role in academic achievement, functional independence, and participation in daily life activities. By understanding the components of graphomotor skills, their developmental trajectory, and their significance for individuals’ success and well-being, educators, therapists, and caregivers can provide effective support and intervention to help individuals develop and refine their handwriting abilities.

Developing graphomotor skills is an important aspect of children’s development that lays the foundation for academic success and self-expression. By implementing strategies and activities that promote hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, and handwriting proficiency, parents, teachers, and caregivers can support children in mastering this essential skill and fostering confidence and independence in their academic and personal endeavors.