BACKGROUND: Movement and physical activity is crucial to brain development and has a positive impact on the ability to learn. With children spending a large portion of their time in the school setting, physical activity and the development of motor skills in this environment may not only impact their overall development but may also influence their learning. The aim of this study was to investigate relationships between motor proficiency and reading skills in Year-1 children.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study with a single class of Year-1 students (n = 24: mean age = 6.07 ± 0.35 years). Assessments included; a) Process Assessment of the Learner (PAL-II) - Diagnostics for Reading and Writing (reading components only); b) Bruininks-Oseretsky-Test-of-Motor-Proficiency (BOT2); c) parent-reported height/weight and; d) Preparatory Year academic reports. The PAL-II was individually administered. The BOT2 was administered in small groups. Parent-reported height and weight measurements as well as Preparatory Year reports provided by the school Principal were obtained for each participant.
RESULTS: Significant negative relationships were obtained between Year-1 children's total motor proficiency and silent reading ability (r = -.53 to -.59, p ≤ .01). While not significant for female students, the relationships were significant and strongly correlated for male students (r = -.738 to -.810, p ≤ .001). Children with low-average English grades demonstrated a strong positive relationship between motor proficiency and pre-reading skills, essential to functional reading (r = .664., p = .04 to r = .716, p = .04).
CONCLUSION: For children with low-average English grades, the strong, positive relationship between motor proficiency and pre-reading skills suggests that this population may benefit from additional motor proficiency skills. Blending of motor skills within the English curriculum may benefit both of these sub-groups within a classroom environment.