Finger-Based Numerical Skills Link Fine Motor Skills to Numerical Development in Preschoolers

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Previous studies investigating the association between fine-motor skills (FMS) and mathematical skills have lacked specificity. In this study, we test whether an FMS link to numerical skills is due to the involvement of finger representations in early mathematics. We gave 81 pre-schoolers (mean age of 4 years, 9 months) a set of FMS measures and numerical tasks with and without a specific finger focus. Additionally, we used receptive vocabulary and chronological age as control measures. FMS linked more closely to finger-based than to nonfinger-based numerical skills even after accounting for the control variables. Moreover, the relationship between FMS and numerical skill was entirely mediated by finger-based numerical skills. We concluded that FMS are closely related to early numerical skill development through finger-based numerical counting that aids the acquisition of mathematical mental representations.

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