North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Health and Physical Development (HPD)

Subdomain: Motor Development

Goal: Children develop small muscle control and hand-eye coordination to manipulate objects and work with tools.

Skill Progression: Reach/Grasp/Release

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

Reach: Reaches with fist closed

Grasp (of small object): Demonstrates grasp reflex when finger placed in infant’s palm

Stares at objects and own hands

Release: No voluntary release

2-4 Months

Reach: Begins visually directed reaching; keeps object and hand in view when reaching

Grasp: If object is contacted, pulls it in and squeezes it against the body or other hand

Release: Involuntary release after holding

4-6 Months

Grasp: Palmer grasp, with fingers on top surface of object, object pressed into palm; later, fingers on far side of object press it against the thumb and side of palm

Release: Two-stage transfer - one hand holds object, second hand joins hold, first hand releases

6-8 Months

Grasp (of tiny object): Initially, rakes object into palm with fingers, thumb bent

Grasp: Radial-palmar grasp-object held using thumb, index and middle fingers pressing it against the palm; wrist is straight

Release: Releases object with assist against

8-10 Months

Grasp (of tiny object): Lateral pincer - Picks up object between thumb and side of index finger

Grasp: Radial-digital grasp-object moves to between thumb and fingertips

Grasp: Three-jaw chuck grasp- object held with thumb and two fingers

Release: Initially, clumsy release of object above a container with wrist flexed-may miss; later, controlled release, wrist straight

Release (of tiny object): Transfers to other hand-initial clumsy release into large container; later becomes controlled

10-12 Months

Grasp (of tiny object): Initially, pincer grasp- with object between the pads of index finger and thumb, thumb slightly flexed - thumb is in opposition; later, fine pincer grasp-between fingernails and thumb, with thumb flexed

Grasp: Radial-digital grasp with wrist extended

Grasp: Inferior pincer grasp- between the thumb and pad of index finger; beginning thumb opposition

Release: Controls release of object into container

Release (of tiny object): Unsuccessful release into small container

12-15 Months

Reach: Beginning of two-handed reach, with one hand stabilizing

Grasp: Refined pincer grasp between tip of thumb to tip of index finger

Release (of tiny object): Precise release into small container with wrist extended

15-18 Months

Reach: Reaches with lead and and assist hands

Reach: Alternates reach with first one hand, then the other

Grasp: Holds crayon using fisted grasp

18-21 Months

Release: Releases objects according to size and shape of container

21-24 Months

Grasp: Precise tasks use fingertip grasp

Grasp: Power tasks use palmer grasp

24-27 Months

Skills combined into Manipulation/Tool use

27-30 Months

Skills combined into Manipulation/Tool use

30-33 Months

Skills combined into Manipulation/Tool use

33-36 Months

Grasp: Uses effective power grasp on tools, such as a screwdriver

Release: Releases a ball with all fingers opening and thrusting

36-42 Months

Skills combined into Manipulation/Tool use

42-48 Months

Grasp: Uses static tripod grasp on pencil

48-54 Months

Hand preference established

54-60 Months

Grasp: Draws with dexterity, using a dynamic tripod grasp, with the little and ring finger tucked into the palm, the thumb and index finger grasping the pencil, and the middle finger supporting underneath the pencil (movement comes from fingers rather than arm and hands)

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit