Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 402–413 | Cite as

Assessment of Motor Functioning in the Preschool Period

  • Jan P. Piek
  • Beth Hands
  • Melissa K. Licari


The assessment of motor functioning in young children has become increasingly important in recent years with the acknowledgement that motor impairment is linked with cognitive, language, social and emotional difficulties. However, there is no one gold standard assessment tool to investigate motor ability in children. The aim of the current paper was to discuss the issues related to the assessment of motor ability in young pre-school children and to provide guidelines on the best approach for motor assessment. The paper discusses the maturational changes in brain development at the preschool level in relation to motor ability. Other issues include sex differences in motor ability at this young age, and evidence for this in relation to sociological versus biological influences. From the previous literature it is unclear what needs to be assessed in relation to motor functioning. Should the focus be underlying motor processes or movement skill assessment? Several key assessment tools are discussed that produce a general measure of motor performance followed by a description of tools that assess specific skills, such as fine and gross motor, ball and graphomotor skills. The paper concludes with recommendations on the best approach in assessing motor function in pre-school children.


Motor ability Movement skill Motor assessment Preschool children Fine motor Gross motor Grapho-motor skills 



We wish to thank Daniela Rigoli for her assistance with the literature search for this review, and her valuable comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin Health Innovation Research InstituteCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Health and Rehabilitation ScienceUniversity of Notre Dame AustraliaFremantleAustralia
  3. 3.School of Sport Science, Exercise & HealthThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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