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

Developing this skill during childhood is essential to be able to learn well.


Writing is one of the greatest advances of humanity 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 accurately. But the ability to read and write doesn’t appear out of nowhere.

It is something that we have to learn throughout life. With regard to writing, it requires, in addition to symbolizing capacity, the ability to perform a series of precise movements; that is to say, of graphomotricity.

What is graphomotor skills?

Graphomotricity is understood as the set of manual movements required and necessary to be able to write. These movements would be included within fine motor development, the ability to mobilize hands and fingers in a coordinated manner. Thus, graphomotricity is 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. The graphomotricity would have its beginning in the first infantile lines, being necessary that little by little the minor manages to dominate the space and the instruments. It is essential that the little one learns the pincer movements first and grasps smaller and smaller objects.

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

With the passage of time these processes are automated, something that allows us to deepen and improve the level of fineness and precision necessary for correct writing.

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 is learning to master the movements necessary for writing.

It could be considered that the first attempts at graphic expression would begin around a year and a half, at which time the first scribbles usually begin to appear. The child acts rather on impulse and with total lack of control, without eye-hand coordination and using the whole arm.

Later, a little before two years of age, the elbow begins to be used to make lines (although not yet coordinating the 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 three years of age there is already 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 come off 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 minor already 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 carries them out schematically.

From this point to six years of age, we will learn to add details to the previous elements. It would also enter a pre-syllabic stage, in which pictorial drawings begin to differentiate from lines that claim to represent letters or numbers.

Initially, they are disorganized and separated lines from each other, but little by little they are organized and aligned in such a way that their reading is possible (although initially only the minor himself would understand what he means).

After that, we enter a moment of syllabic writing, in which each spelling begins to represent a specific syllable or phoneme. Later, as we improve the line and the capacity for symbolization, a transition stage occurs towards an alphabetic writing, in which each spelling ends up corresponding to a phoneme. Over the years, the letter will improve and smaller and more precise spellings will be able to be made.

How to enhance graphomotor skills?

Graphomotricity is a fundamental skill to be able to write and draw, in addition to contributing to the increase of precision and manual ability to do different tasks. It is therefore advisable to try to reinforce it through different activities. The practice of calligraphy can help, but work in the graphomotor field does not only involve these types of activities but can also be approached from a more playful perspective.

It stimulates the behavior of the game and the possibility of drawing, not only with colored pencils but also with elements such as paint or sand is fundamental. But training graphomotor skills does not only imply painting and coloring, but also contributes to improving all those activities that require a certain level of fine motor skills.

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

But it is not only about the child doing things, but about valuing them. For this, family support is essential, the fact of actively participating in this learning and also congratulating them on their achievements will make the child feel more secure and valued. In addition, the fact of 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 union as well as improve the predisposition towards writing and learning it.

Bibliographic references:

  • CCOO Teaching Federation of Andalusia. (2011). Graphomotor skills in early childhood education. Topics for Education. Digital magazine for teaching professionals.
  • Marchesi, A and Coll, C. (1991). Psychological Development and Education. Madrid. Alliance.

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