Lifelong Academic Benefits of Fine Motor Skills in Children

The benefits of children developing fine more skills begin at a young age and last a life time.  The three areas you will see the benefits are in the brain, academics and life skills. 

Printing and writing in cursive are great practice for fine motor development in children from pre-school and beyond. 

Increased neuro wiring results from the practice and development of a child’s fine motor skills.  Early on the ability to perceive, move, plan and respond to feedback creates neuropathways supporting all that is needed to be successful in life and school.  For children these skills are practiced in toys, games, drawing and writing.

Developing Fine Motor Skills Has Many Benefits

  • Improved cognition
  • Integration of visual perception needed to read
  • Increased development of executive functioning
  • Better school performance
  • Easier participation in general life skills
Fine Motor development with Rubic's cube
Playing games is a fun way to develop fine motor skills.

Students who see the details, at an earlier age, are able to evaluate details which are important when mastering reading and writing. 

Improved Cognition Through Fine Motor Skill Development

  1. By copying pictures and words children are learning to see the details in the world around them. 
  2. Mastering their fine motor muscles helps them move items in their word.  They are learning to control their environment. They imagine, gather, experiment and create many iterations without frustration a child would have with delayed or poor motor skills. 
  3. As children carry out their ideas they constantly respond to the feedback and adjust to the results. 

Students who see the details, at an earlier age, are able to evaluate details which are important when mastering reading and writing.  They learn to read faster as they know and understand how a simple ball and stick can be four different letters when you look at the details of their placement.  The practice of seeing details makes them quicker at recognizing what is new and different in life and school subject matter.  Students with good fine motor control play with more sophisticated toys which also gives them a head start compared to peers.  An example would be building or copying a tower of Duplo blocks is  not going to be as detailed as one made from Legos. 

Students with fine motor skills have developed neurological wiring to support their executive functioning.

Little girl writing to develop fine motor skills
Writing is only the obvious way children practice fine motor skills.

Fine Motor Skills Improve Executive Functioning

In the effort to make changes to their world students with fine motor skills have developed neurological wiring to support their executive functioning, planning ahead.  When they have an idea they can physically carry out, children become more efficient.  They have experience in sorting, building, making and creating.  These children have practiced and understand the abstract of before, during and after.  An example would be beading a bracelet.  There is an understanding that to have it result in a pattern of colors,  you need many colors to start with and there is certainly a process to create the vision. 

By manipulating their world in practicing fine motor skills children practice receiving feedback.  They have a better developed visual and motor integration system. They are used to evaluating how something looks and feels while they are in the middle of creating.  This neuro wiring feedback loop helps them adjust on the fly to what is happening with their efforts in changing the world.  They don’t write a whole paper with an incorrect margin but notice and self-correct based on the feedback they are receiving.  They don’t keep piling blocks on a tipping tower, they stop to adjust. 

A child’s neuro wiring feedback loop helps them respond to their world more quickly.

Boy practicing find motor skills to increase neuro wiring
Children who work quickly have more free time to explore.

How Fine Motor Skills Improve Academic Success

Children that are ahead or stay on target with reading will always do better.  Reading increases vocabulary development, prepares students to learn by reading and opens up the world.   

There is no lack of research about the Matthew Effect – students with an academic gap will have the gap increase every year they are in school.  Reading, writing and math are all dependent on seeing symbols correctly.  They require a certain amount of precision to successfully complete tasks.  This awareness and precision of performance all hinge on fine motor skills and strong visual perception.  

  • Students who don’t see letter variations do not learn to read as quickly.
  • Students who can’t write with precision are unable to access their own ideas at a later date.
    • Can’t read the words they wrote
    • Can’t tell an exponent from a coefficient
  • Students who must still focus on letter formation will take fewer notes or not be able to process information while copying.
  • Students who struggle to write will work more slowly.  This lowers their self-esteem and can create hours of “work to complete at home” as they just don’t have the time they need.
  • Students who do not understand the importance of placement will lack number sense.
  • Students who cannot organize their work will struggle to organize their thoughts and lack the ability to share them with others. 

CASE STUDY of Delayed Fine Motor Skills

In 2019 I was working with a 6th grade student who seemed to struggle in everything except physical education classes.  After a few weeks of working with him I realized he didn’t know “b” from “d” when reading or writing as he always defaulted to the capital letter.  He also was confused by place value.  With play money he knew 4 hundreds would be worth more than 4 tens but when numbers were written he didn’t see or understand the significance of location within the number.  Often his work was jumbled and disorganized.  He was unable to visually plan his work or pay attention to the lines on the page as it took up so much effort just to copy the letter symbols (words) from the white board.  Once we backed up and talked about details, precision and importance he was able to adjust many of his habits.  However, the fine motor skills that needed to be developed took a little longer.  Had he had early intervention that required accurate writing in language arts and math, he might have saved himself many hours of feeling less than.  Children can want to rush and be done.  The disservice of allowing students to demonstrate fine motor delays without intervention or assessment can have life-long consequences.  Now, I consider fine-motor skills anytime I meet a new student. 

Mom and daughter play a game that develops fine motor skills
Helping your child with fine motor skills also develops their visual processing abilities which improves their reading.

Children with developed fine motor skills work more efficiently at most school tasks. This allows them more time for enrichment activities and free time to explore their own interests.

Fine Motor Skills and Success in Everyday Life

Beginning at an early age fine motor skills allow children to become independent.  They can dress and feed themselves.  They are able to open and close containers giving the access to do more and to be more confident.  During the pre-school years The ability to manipulate objects in their world allows for an increase in experience in life and academics.

During the school years working efficiently allows for more time for enrichment and exploration of ideas and subjects of their own interest.  It allows students to have useable notes to learn other content material.  Projects are less overwhelming as there are fewer errors.  The projects then can be elaborated on or designed in a more complex way.  Projects with art and reporting are less of a burden for students who are confident in making a plan and executing written and design work. 

When a child or student as developed fine motor skills high school can be a time to explore interests and possible careers.  They have more free time to participate in activities creating a well-rounded teen experience.

In adulthood a delay in fine motor skills can prohibit certain careers.  For average adults cleaning, paying attention to important details and being precise is a given.  If children are not supported to develop these skills, as adults, they may mis-read labels, write inaccurate or illegible directions and find participating in a chosen field of work to be a continuous frustration. 

As children work on their fine motor skills they are exercising their visual perception abilities. The ability to track movements and see details support reading.

Girl knitting to improve fine motor skills
By Knitting this girl is building neuro connections. Her hand eye coordination is improving along with her visual processing skills.


If your child has delayed or poor motor skills is it good to implement interventions.  The easiest being practice with toys, games and writing.   Giving attention to precision when practicing to read and write.  If you feel progress isn’t being made, seeking a professional assessment might be called for.  This should not be considered legal or medical advice. For further reading the following link identifies the comorbidity of fine motor delay and other neurodiversities.  The Impact of Poor Motor Skills on Perceptual, Social and Cognitive Development: The Case of Developmental Coordination Disorder – PMC (

If you are interested in printing practice pages for you child or class, follow this link to a writing program that will support fine motor skills within the writing portion of instruction. HERE

It is my goal to support teachers who are working with students that struggle. For more on strategic interventions check out my other blog posts. HERE

Kimberly Jacobs in her office
Working to help teachers every day.

I am an intervention strategist.

Students do not all learn the same way. Therefore, what will help them fill learning gaps won’t be the same.

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