Cinar E, Fitzpatrick C, Almeida ML, Camden C, Garon-Carrier G. (2023). Motor skills are more strongly associated to academic performance for girls than boys. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 38(3), 252-267.
This study investigated the contribution of fine and gross motor skills to academic and attentional performance at school entry among 832 boys and girls. Children were tested on their fine and gross motor skills (locomotor, object control) and their academic performance in receptive vocabulary, number knowledge, and attentional skills at 6 to 7 years old. Results from ordinary least square models adjusted for family income, maternal education attainment, and early cognitive skills at 41 to 48 months revealed that fine motor skills significantly predicted receptive vocabulary, number knowledge, and attention skills. The associations between fine motor skills with receptive vocabulary and attention were stronger for girls than boys. Better performance in locomotor also significantly predicted higher levels of receptive vocabulary while object control was positively associated with attentional skills among girls only. Children with better motor abilities, especially fine motor skills, are more likely to be successful in the areas requiring language, numeracy, and attentional skills. Thus, motor skills should be a focus of interest for increasing academic and attentional skills level at school entry, particularly in girls.