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Tuesday 26 March 2019
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
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Developing Finger Isolation

Finger Isolation

This skill is gained early on in a child’s development. At 10 months old a child is able to isolate their index finger. Isolating fingers in sequence is a skill that older children acquire but usually before 5 years of age. 

Finger isolation is needed before other manipulation skills can be gained and is essential for pincer grips. Sequencing finger isolation is needed to enable a child to manage fastenings, play musical instruments and use small items of equipment such as lego or thread beads.

  • Your child should make a fist and then straighten one finger at a time – beginning with the thumb. There are some good finger songs to encourage this, ask your school or nursery if you don’t know any.
  • Use finger puppets to encourage the use of one finger at a time.
  • If your child is still having trouble, ‘hula hoop’ crisp can be a good incentive! Ask him/her to outstretch one finger at a time and place a hula hoop on it.
  • Encourage your child to make a fist, then raise fingers one by one to count.
  • Circles. Ask your child to make circles on the pad of his/her thumb with his/her index finger, and then try doing it with the other fingers. Then, see if he/she can make a circular movement on the pad of the finger using the tip of the thumb.
  • Introduce push button games ie. toy phones
  • Trigger action toys such as water pistols also encourage finger isolation.