Motor skills in daily life
Pediatricians and developmental psychologists agree that one crucial milestone for young children’s school readiness is the ability to dress oneself independently. Extant research on this skill suggests that at age 5, most children are competent enough at dressing themselves to be considered “school ready.” However, existing research doesn’t adequately address the specific and diverse developmental abilities required for independent dressing. For example, tying shoes is a much more developmentally challenging action than putting on socks. The present study focuses on one of the more complex components of dressing, buttoning, in order to understand the fine motor skills and cognitive processes required of this action. The buttoning process reveals that it can be considered an “assembled skill”; that is, it requires different components – fine motor, planning, and spatial – that can be acquired at different developmental markers. Through behavioral observations of 5- through 7-year-old participants buttoning shirts in two presentations (on themselves and on a puppet across from them), analyses considering overall success, spatial success, and fine motor success as variables revealed that these components may, indeed, develop at different rates. This finding suggests that the fine motor skills that are currently considered markers for school readiness for young children may be more complex than originally understood; thus, some children may be developmentally ready in some skill areas while unready in others.