Fine Motor Skills, Executive Function, and Academic Achievement

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


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.


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 


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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

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