Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill DevelopmentFine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development

When you walk into any preschool classroom, you will observe children using their fingers to count.  Finger counting helps children to represent numbers and later influences the ability to complete arithmetic problems.  The ability to count usually develops side by side with fine motor skill development.  Many times, when children first start to learn arithmetic it is finger-based.  Previous research indicated links between fine motor skills in kindergarten and concurrent or later mathematical development.  Perceptual and Motor Skills published research to investigate whether the link between fine motor skills and numerical skills in preschoolers is from the involvement of finger representations in early mathematics.

The research study included 81 preschool children who were evaluated for fine motor skills and numerical tasks using receptive vocabulary and chronological age as control measures.  The fine motor skills that were assessed was pegboard task, bead stringing and block turning.  Numerical tasks were assessed using non-finger based (children were not allowed to count with their fingers) and finger-based (children were prompted to use their fingers).  The results indicated the following:

  • a positive and strong correlation between virtually all fine motor skills and numerical skills.
  • only age and finger-based numerical skills were significantly related to fine motor skills.
  • fine motor skills, independent of age and receptive vocabulary, contributed significantly to all numerical skill measures.
  • the fine motor skill link appeared strongest with finger-based numerical skills.
  • age, but not receptive vocabulary, also appeared to be a significant predictor of numerical skills generally and of nonfinger-based numerical skills.
  • age was not a significant predictor of finger-based numerical skills.

The researchers discussed that preschool children with greater fine motor skills are better able to represent numbers with fingers which links to better performance on finger-counting and finger arithmetic tasks.

Reference: Suggate, S., Stoeger, H., & Fischer, U. (2017). Finger-Based Numerical Skills Link Fine Motor Skills to Numerical Development in Preschoolers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 0031512517727405.

Check out these products to help preschoolers with fine motor skill development:

Hands First for Learning Fine Motor Curriculum and Preschool Units

Fantastic Fingers® Fine Motor Program

Fine Motor Breaks

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development