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Good motor skills may enhance reading skills in obese children 

March 20, 2018

University of Eastern Finland


Excess body weight has been linked to poor academic performance in children in several previous studies. A new study now shows that a high body fat percentage is associated with poor reading skills in 6- to 8-year-old boys. However, these associations are largely explained by poor motor skills.

The effectiveness of a fundamental motor skill intervention in pre-schoolers with motor problems depends on gender but not environmental context

Farid Bardid a,1,*, Frederik J.A. Deconinck a,b,1, Sofie Descamps a, Liesbeth Verhoeven c, Greet De Pooter c, Matthieu Lenoir a, Eva D’Hondt a,d a Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium b School of Healthcare Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK c Department of Teacher Education, Karel de Grote Hogeschool, Belgium d Faculty of Physical Education, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium 

How Are Motor Skills Linked to Children’s School

Performance and Academic Achievement?

Claire E. Cameron,1 Elizabeth A. Cottone,2 William M. Murrah,2 and David W. Grissmer2


1State University of New York at Buffalo, and 2University of Virginia

© 2016 The Authors

Child Development Perspectives © 2016 The Society for Research in Child Development

DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12168ABSTRACT—Children need a range of skills to transition

successfully to formal schooling. In early childhood classrooms,

children must master their fine and gross motor

skills. In this article, we review the evidence that links

motor skills to diverse school outcomes, then describe

three sets of cognitive processes—motor coordination,

executive function, and visuospatial skills—that are

tapped by motor assessments. We then use these processes

to explain how motor skills are implicated in children’s

self-regulation and their emergent literacy and numeracy.

We conclude by encouraging theoretical and methodological

approaches to clarify the mechanisms that implicate

motor skills in school performance and achievement.

Impact of a multicomponent physical activity intervention on

cognitive performance: The MOVI‐KIDS study

Received: 9 April 2018 | Revised: 13 November 2018 | Accepted: 4 January 20191Social and Health Care Research

Center, Universidad de Castilla‐La Mancha,

Cuenca, Spain

2Faculty of Education, Universidad de

Castilla‐La Mancha, Ciudad Real, Spain

3Faculty of Nursing, Universidad de

Castilla‐La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain

4Faculty of Education, Universidad de

Castilla‐La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain

5Facultad de Ciencias de la

Salud, Universidad Aut.noma de Chile,

Santiago, ChileIntroduction: This study examined the impact of a multicomponent physical activity

(PA) intervention (MOVI‐KIDS) on improving cognition in schoolchildren. This

paper also analyzed the mediator role of motor fitness between MOVI‐KIDS and


Methods: Propensity score analysis of data from a cluster randomized controlled

trial (MOVI‐KIDS study). This analysis including 240 5‐7 years old children from

nine schools in the provinces of Cuenca and Ciudad Real, Spain. MOVI‐KIDS program

consisted of: (a) three weekly after‐school sessions of recreational non‐competitive

PA lasting 60 minutes during one academic year, (b) educational materials

for parents and teachers, and (c) school playground modifications. Changes in cognition

(logical reasoning, verbal factor, numerical factor, spatial factor, and general

intelligence) were measured. A propensity score cross‐cluster matching procedure

and mediation analysis (Hayes’s PROCESS macro) were conducted.

Results: All cognitive variables pre‐post mean changes were significantly higher

(P ≤ 0.05) in children from intervention schools than those from control schools (effect

size ranged from 0.33 to 1.48). The effect of the intervention on the spatial factor

and general intelligence was partially mediated by motor fitness (indirect effect

= 0.92, 95% CI: 0.36; 1.65; and indirect effect = 1.21, 95% CI: 0.06; 2.62,


Conclusions: This study shows that a one‐school‐year multicomponent intervention

consisting of a recreational non‐competitive PA program, educational materials for

parents and teachers, and school playground modifications improved the cognition

of first‐grade children. Further, our results suggest that the effect of the intervention

on cognition was mediated by changes in motor fitness.

Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs•

Volume 5•

Number 3•

2005 101–111

doi: 10.1111/J.1471-3802.2005.00049.x

Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.

The effects of the Primary Movement programme

on the academic performance of children attending

ordinary primary school

Julie-Anne Jordan-Black

Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland


The present study investigated the prevalence of a

primary reflex (the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex)

in children attending ordinary primary school and

how this related to attainments in a number of

academic areas. The effectiveness of a specific

movement intervention programme in reducing

primary reflex persistence and improving academic

attainment was also evaluated.

A comparative study of the progress of 683 children

over a two-year period from Years 3 and 5, who

completed an intervention programme known as

Primary Movement, was carried out using the

relative attainments of children at the same schools

and standardised scores as baseline and follow-up

measures. A second, quasi-experimental study

followed the progress of four parallel groups in each

of two large schools with the experimental side

completing the movement intervention programme

while the other side acted as the control.

It was found that ATNR persistence was significantly

associated with level of attainments in reading,

spelling and mathematics and that boys were more

at risk than girls for ATNR persistence. In both

studies, it was found that the movement intervention

programme had a very significant impact on

reducing the levels of ATNR persistence in children

and that this was associated with very significant

improvements in reading and mathematics, in


This research provides further evidence of a link

between the attainment of core educational skills

and the interference that may result from an

underlying developmental deficit. The effectiveness

of the intervention programme in reducing ATNR

persistence and in increasing academic attainments

suggests that this programme could be used to

complement other strategies that have been shown

to have a positive effect on children’s learning.

Movement and Cognition

The relationship between gross motor skills, executive functioning, and academic achievement in children with learning disorders (2014)

Marieke Westendorp


Link naar dit proefschrift 

Individual differences in basic numerical skills:

The role of executive functions and motor skills

Venera Gashaj ⇑, Nicole Oberer, Fred W. Mast, Claudia M. Roebers

Department of Psychology, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland


Center for Cognition, Learning, and Memory, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

a b s t r a c t

The aim of the current study was to explore individual differences

in basic numerical skills in a normative sample of 151 kindergarteners

(mean age = 6.45 years). Whereas previous research

claims a substantial link between executive functions and basic

numerical skills, motor abilities have been put forward to explain

variance in numerical skills. Regarding the current study, these

two assumptions have been combined, revealing interesting

results. Namely, executive functions (inhibition, switching, and

visuospatial working memory) were found to relate to symbolic

numerical skills, and motor skills (gross and fine motor skills)

showed a significant correlation to nonsymbolic numerical skills.

Suggesting that motor skills and executive functions are associated

with basic numerical skills could lead to potential avenues for

interventions in certain disorders or disabilities such as nonverbal

learning disability, developmental dyscalculia, and developmental

coordination disorder.

Bewegend leren in de klas 

Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma, Esther Hartman, Marck de Greeff & Chris Visscher

Centrum voor Bewegingswetenschappen, UMCG/Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Simone Doolaard & Roel Bosker

GION/Onderwijskunde, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Al springend leren rekenen en spellen: het is een innovatieve manier van leren die het beeld van stilzittende kinderen in de klas doorbreekt. Fysiek actieve reken- en taallessen kunnen een effectieve manier zijn om schoolprestaties van kinderen te verbeteren. Bovendien dragen de lessen bij aan de dagelijkse hoeveelheid beweging die kinderen nodig hebben. 

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