The purpose of this article was to examine specific linkages between early visual-motor integration skills and executive function, as well as between early object manipulation skills and social behaviors in the classroom during the preschool year.
Ninety-two children aged 3 to 5 years old (Mage = 4.31 years) were recruited to participate. Comprehensive measures of visual-motor integration skills, object manipulation skills, executive function, and social behaviors were administered in the fall and spring of the preschool year.
Our findings indicated that children who had better visual-motor integration skills in the fall had better executive function scores (B = 0.47 [0.20], p < .05, β = .27) in the spring of the preschool year after controlling for age, gender, Head Start status, and site location, but not after controlling for children's baseline levels of executive function. In addition, children who demonstrated better object manipulation skills in the fall showed significantly stronger social behavior in their classrooms (as rated by teachers) in the spring, including more self-control (B − 0.03 [0.00], p < .05, β = .40), more cooperation (B = 0.02 [0.01], p < .05, β = .28), and less externalizing/hyperactivity (B = − 0.02 [0.01], p < .05, β = − .28) after controlling for social behavior in the fall and other covariates.
Children's visual-motor integration and object manipulation skills in the fall have modest to moderate relations with executive function and social behaviors later in the preschool year. These findings have implications for early learning initiatives and school readiness.