There is a growing body of research (Brown, 2010; Rhemtulla and Tucker Drob, 2011) which suggests that the development of motor skills not only benefits the motor domain, but speech and language development (and reading) as well. Wray and Medwell’s (2006:44) research for example concluded that:

when handwriting and spelling are not automatic they (children) use up critical processing resources in the working memory of the young writer, which limits the resources remaining for idea and text generation.

Thus if children do not have ‘the developmental ability to execute appropriate hand movements’ (Bushnell and Boudreau, 1993: 1013) when they write their whole concentration is on achieving the correct ‘marks’ rather than on the language and content. Likewise providing children with clear guidance about their seating position and posture every day (Soan, 2007) can also really help their speech and language development as well as prevent physical difficulties in later life!

Subject Focus – PE

It may seem slightly obvious to focus on PE when considering the difficulties faced by children with dyspraxia. However, we wanted to highlight issues other than the commonly recognised physical difficulties associated with poor co-ordination. Remember, dyspraxia can impact on a child’s ability to process information, including instructions, spatial awareness and understanding of concept vocabulary relating to time and space.


  • Provide task management boards for throwing and catching as well as getting changed for PE.
  • Demonstrate practical activities broken down into clear steps.
  • ‘Over-teach’ physical skills within a predictable environment.
  • Practice activities for using ‘space’ – provide markers such as hoops on the ground for finding space and cones or skipping ropes for containing space.
  • Provide daily opportunities for activities involving physical and cognitive skills simultaneously, for example moving around cones whilst counting to 10!

FREE RESOURCE: PE Task Management Board – Download from The Link Online.


  • Brown, C.G. (2010) “Improving fine motor skills in young children: an intervention study”, Educational Psychology in Practice, vol.26, no.3, 269 – 278.
  • Bushnell, E.W. and Boudreau, J.P. (1993) “Motor development and the mind: The potential role of motor abilities as a determinant of aspects of perceptual development” Child Development, vol.64, no.4, 1005-1021.
  • Rhemtulla, M. and Tucker- Drob, E.M. (2011) “Correlated longitudinal changes across linguistic, achievement and psychomotor domains in early childhood: evidence for a global dimension of development”, Developmental Science, 14:5:1245-1254.
  • Soan, S. (2007) (ed) Teaching children with special needs – A practice guide for teaching assistants.
  • Wray, D. and Medwell, J. (2006) Progression in Northern Ireland Levels of Writing: A Research Review Undertaken for CCEA University of Warwick (Accessed via:, 20.05.2010).
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