Advertisement

Fine Motor Skills, Executive Function, and Academic Achievement

  • Audrey C. Rule
  • Latisha L. Smith
Chapter
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 14)

Abstract

Determining the skills for young children’s school readiness and other factors that influence academic success is important. This chapter examines the effects fine motor skills and executive function skills have on academic achievement. Evidence is mounting that sensory and bodily movements, as Piaget suggested, lead to cognitive development. Fine motor skills in preschool, perhaps particularly in use of a writing implement, foreshadow later academic success in reading, mathematics, and science. Executive function skills, especially attention and inhibitory control, predict school success and health as an adult. A large variety of effective programs have been found to positively impact executive function skills. Many psychiatric disorders include poor fine motor skills in a large portion of the affected populations. These include developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorders, among others. The severity of fine motor impairment in autism directly predicts the severity of autism, bringing attention to the need for fine motor skill interventions. Interventions that are task-oriented with a teacher coaching the child on arm positions or other points of interest, have been the most successful interventions. Several meta-analyses and controlled studies related to fine motor interventions are reviewed with example classroom-tested interventions suggested.

Keywords

Fine motor skills Motor development Cognitive development Attention Executive function Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Autism Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) Schizophrenia Chlordecone Fine motor skill interventions 

References

  1. Allen, G., & Courchesne, E. (2003). Differential effects of developmental cerebellar abnormality on cognitive and motor functions in the cerebellum: An fMRI study of autism. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(2), 262–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  4. Asonitou, K., Koutsouki, D., Kourtessis, T., & Charitou, S. (2012). Motor and cognitive performance differences between children with and without developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(4), 996–1005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bart, O., Podoly, T., & Bar-Haim, Y. (2010). A preliminary study on the effect of methylphenidate on motor performance in children with comorbid DCD and ADHD. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 31(6), 1443–1447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berger, S. E. (2010). Locomotor expertise predicts infants’ perseverative errors. Developmental Psychology, 46(2), 326–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Best, J. R., Miller, P. H., & Naglieri, J. A. (2011). Relations between executive function and academic achievement from ages 5–17 in a large, representative national sample. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(4), 327–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhat, A. N., Galloway, J. C., & Landa, R. J. (2012). Relation between early motor delay and later communication delay in infants at risk for autism. Infant Behavior and Development, 35(4), 838–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bhat, A. N., Landa, R. J., & Galloway, J. C. (2011). Current perspectives on motor functioning in infants, children, and adult with autism spectrum disorders. Physical Therapy, 91(7), 1116–1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2007). Tools of the mind: The Vygotskian approach to early childhood education (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Merrill/Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  11. Bolea-Alamañac, B., Nutt, D. J., Adamou, M., Asherson, P., Bazire, S., Coghill, D., … Sayal, K. (2014). Evidence-based guidelines for the pharmacological management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Update on recommendations from the British Association for Psychopharmacology. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(3), 179–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brooks, R., & Goldstein, S. (2007). Raising a self-disciplined child: Help your child become more responsible, confident, and resilient. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  13. Brown, C. G. (2010). Improving fine motor skills in young children: An intervention study. Educational Psychology in Practice, 26(3), 269–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bull, R., Espy, K. A., & Wiebe, S. A. (2008). Short-term memory, working memory, and executive functioning in preschoolers: Longitudinal predictors of mathematical achievement at age 7 years. Developmental Neuropsychology, 33(3), 205–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burns, Y., O’Callaghan, M., McDonell, B., & Rogers, Y. (2004). Movement and motor development in ELBW infants at 1 year is related to cognitive and motor abilities at 4 years. Early Human Development, 80(1), 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bushnell, E. W., & Boudreau, J. P. (1993). Motor development and the mind: The potential role of motor abilities as a determinant of aspects of perceptual development. Child Development, 64, 1005–1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cameron, C. E., Brock, L. L., Murrah, W. M., Bell, L. H., Worzalla, S. L., Grissmer, D., & Morrison, F. J. (2012). Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement. Child Development, 83(4), 1229–1244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Campos, J. J., Anderson, D. I., Barbu-Roth, M. A., Hubbard, E. M., Hertenstein, M. J., & Witherington, D. (2000). Travel broadens the mind. Infancy, 1(2), 149–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carlson, A. G., Rowe, E., & Curby, T. W. (2013). Disentangling fine motor skills’ relations to academic achievement: The relative contributions of visual-spatial integration and visual-motor coordination. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 174(5), 514–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2014). Activities guide: Enhancing and practicing executive function skills with children from infancy to adolescence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resourcetag/executive-function/
  21. Dallaire, R., Muckle, G., Rouget, F., Kadhel, P., Bataille, H., Guldner, L., … Thomé, J. P. (2012). Cognitive, visual, and motor development of 7-month-old Guadeloupean infants exposed to chlordecone. Environmental Research, 118, 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dawson, G., Rogers, S., Munson, J., Smith, M., Winter, J., Greenson, J., … Varley, J. (2010). Randomized, controlled trial of an intervention for toddlers with autism: The early start Denver model. Pediatrics, 125(1), e17–e23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dewey, D. (2002). Subtypes of developmental coordination disorder. In S. A. Cermak & D. Larkin (Eds.), Developmental coordination disorder (pp. 40–53). Albany, NY: Delmar Thomson Learning.Google Scholar
  24. Diamond, A. (2000). Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. Child Development, 71(1), 44–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 135–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4–12 years old. Science, 333(6045), 959–964.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dickson, H., Laurens, K. R., Cullen, A. E., & Hodgins, S. (2012). Meta-analyses of cognitive and motor function in youth aged 16 years and younger who subsequently develop schizophrenia. Psychological Medicine, 42(04), 743–755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dinehart, L., & Manfra, L. (2013). Associations between low-income children’s fine motor skills in preschool and academic performance in second grade. Early Education and Development, 24, 138–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., … Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Dunning, D. L., Holmes, J., & Gathercole, S. E. (2013). Does working memory training lead to generalized improvements in children with low working memory? A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Science, 16(6), 915–925.Google Scholar
  31. Flapper, B. C., Houwen, S., & Schoemaker, M. M. (2006). Fine motor skills and effects of methylphenidate in children with attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder and developmental coordination disorder. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 48(03), 165–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Flapper, B. C., & Schoemaker, M. M. (2008). Effects of methylphenidate on quality of life in children with both developmental coordination disorder and ADHD. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 50(4), 294–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fuentes, C. T., Mostofsky, S. H., & Bastian, A. J. (2010). Perceptual reasoning predicts handwriting impairments in adolescents with autism. Neurology, 75, 1825–1829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Goulardins, J. B., Marques, J. C. B., Casella, E. B., Nascimento, R. O., & Oliveira, J. A. (2013). Motor profile of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, combined type. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(1), 40–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Grissmer, D., Grimm, K. J., Aiyer, S. M., Murrah, W. M., & Steele, J. S. (2010). Fine motor skills and early comprehension of the world: Two new school readiness indicators. Developmental Psychology, 46(5), 1008–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hadders-Algra, M. (2000). The neural group selection theory: Promising principles for understanding and treating developmental motor disorders. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 42(10), 707–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hellendoorn, A., Wijnroks, L., van Daalen, E., Dietz, C., Buitelaar, J. K., & Leseman, P. (2015). Motor functioning, exploration, visuospatial cognition and language development in preschool children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 39, 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Iversen, S., Berg, K., Ellertsen, B., & Tønnessen, F. E. (2005). Motor coordination difficulties in a municipality group and in a clinical sample of poor readers. Dyslexia, 11(3), 217–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kaiser, M. L., Schoemaker, M. M., Albaret, J. M., & Geuze, R. H. (2015). What is the evidence of impaired motor skills and motor control among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Systematic review of the literature. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 36, 338–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Keifer, J. J. (2015). Handwriting and fine motor skill development in the kindergarten classroom (Masters thesis, Texas Christian University).Google Scholar
  41. Koziol, L. F., Budding, D., Andreasen, N., D’Arrigo, S., Bulgheroni, S., Imamizu, H., … Pezzulo, G. (2014). Consensus paper: The cerebellum’s role in movement and cognition. The Cerebellum, 13(1), 151–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Koziol, L. F., Budding, D. E., & Chidekel, D. (2012). From movement to thought: Executive function, embodied cognition, and the cerebellum. The Cerebellum, 11(2), 505–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kroesbergen, E. H., Van Luit, J. E. H., Naglieri, J. A., Taddei, S., & Franchi, E. (2009). PASS processes and early mathematics skills in Dutch and Italian kindergartners. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 28, 585–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lawrence, V., Houghton, S., Tannock, R., Douglas, G., Durkin, K., & Whiting, K. (2002). ADHD outside the laboratory: Boys’ executive function performance on tasks in videogame play and on a visit to the zoo. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30(5), 447–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Logan, S. W., Robinson, L. E., Wilson, A. E., & Lucas, W. A. (2012). Getting the fundamentals of movement: A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of motor skill interventions in children. Child: Care, Health and Development, 38(3), 305–315.Google Scholar
  46. MacDonald, M., Lord, C., & Ulrich, D. A. (2014). Motor skills and calibrated autism severity in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 31, 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marr, D., Cermak, S., Cohn, E. S., & Henderson, A. (2003). Fine motor activities in head start and kindergarten classrooms. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57(5), 550–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McPhillips, M., & Sheehy, N. (2004). Prevalence of persistent primary reflexes and motor problems in children with reading difficulties. Dyslexia, 10(4), 316–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Montessori, M. (1949). Absorbent mind. Oxford: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  50. Montessori, M. (1965). Dr. Montessori’s own handbook. New York, NY: Schocken Books (Original work published in 1914).Google Scholar
  51. Moreno, A. J., Shwayder, I., & Friedman, I. D. (2016). The function of executive function: Everyday manifestations of regulated thinking in preschool settings. Early Childhood Education Journal Online First, 45, 143–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Morrison, F. J., Ponitz, C. C., & McClelland, M. M. (2010). Self-regulation and academic achievement in the transition to school. In S. D. Calkins & M. A. Bell (Eds.), Child development at the intersection of emotion and cognition (pp. 203–224). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Morrow, M. (2015). Effectiveness of fine motor intervention in early childhood education (Master’s project, California State University at Channel Islands).Google Scholar
  54. Murray, G. K., Veijola, J., Moilanen, K., Miettunen, J., Glahn, D. C., Cannon, T. D., … Isohanni, M. (2006). Infant motor development is associated with adult cognitive categorisation in a longitudinal birth cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(1), 25–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Naglieri, J. A., & Das, J. P. (1997). Cognitive assessment system. Austin, TX: ProEd.Google Scholar
  56. O’Hare, A., & Khalid, S. (2002). The association of abnormal cerebellar function in children with developmental coordination disorder and reading difficulties. Dyslexia, 8(4), 234–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Oberauer, K., Süβ, H. M., Wilhelm, O., & Wittmann, W. W. (2008). Which working memory functions predict intelligence? Intelligence, 36(6), 641–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Piaget, J. (1953). The origin of the intelligence in the child. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  59. Piek, J. P., Dawson, L., Smith, L. M., & Gasson, N. (2008). The role of early fine and gross motor development on later motor and cognitive ability. Human Movement Science, 27(5), 668–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pienaar, A. E., Barhorst, R., & Twisk, J. W. R. (2013). Relationships between academic performance, SES school type and perceptual-motor skills in first grade South African learners: NW-CHILD study. Child: Care, Health, and Development, 40(3), 370–378.Google Scholar
  61. Roebers, C. M., & Jäger, K. (2014). The relative importance of fine motor skills, intelligence, and executive functions for first graders’ reading and spelling skills. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 40(2), 13–17.Google Scholar
  62. Romine, C. B., & Reynolds, C. R. (2005). A model of the development of frontal lobe function: Findings from a meta-analysis. Applied Neuropsychology, 12, 190–201. [PubMed: 16422660].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rule, A. C., & Stewart, R. A. (2002). Effects of practical life materials on kindergartners’ fine motor skills. Early Childhood Education Journal, 30(1), 9–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schoemaker, M. M., Ketelaars, C. E., Van Zonneveld, M., Minderaa, R. B., & Mulder, T. (2005). Deficits in motor control processes involved in production of graphic movements of children with attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 47(06), 390–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Singh, I., & Wessely, S. (2015). Childhood: A suitable case for treatment? The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(7), 661–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Smits-Engelsman, B. C. M., Blank, R., Van Der Kaay, A. C., Mosterd-Van der Meijs, R., Vlugt-Van Den Brand, E., Polatajko, H. J., & Wilson, P. H. (2013). Efficacy of interventions to improve motor performance in children with developmental coordination disorder: A combined systematic review and meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 55(3), 229–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sonuga-Barke, E. J., Brandeis, D., Cortese, S., Daley, D., Ferrin, M., Holtmann, M., … Dittmann, R. W. (2013). Nonpharmacological interventions for ADHD: Systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of dietary and psychological treatments. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 275–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stewart, R. A., Rule, A. C., & Giordano, D. A. (2007). The effect of fine motor skill activities on kindergarten student attention. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(2), 103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tseng, M. H., Henderson, A., Chow, S. M., & Yao, G. (2004). Relationship between motor proficiency, attention, impulse, and activity in children with ADHD. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 46(06), 381–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wentworth, R. A. L. (1998). Montessori for the new millennium. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  71. Wijnroks, L., & van Veldhoven, N. (2003). Individual differences in postural control and cognitive development in preterm infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 26(1), 14–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Audrey C. Rule
    • 1
  • Latisha L. Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA
  2. 2.Teacher Education DepartmentUpper Iowa UniversityFayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations