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Indicator: Kindergarten readiness: perceptual, motor, and physical development


Children develop and demonstrate gross and fine motor skills, and an understanding of health, safety, and nutrition.


  • Percentage of children meeting benchmarks on teacher-reported kindergarten readiness assessment, such as the following:
    • The Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) Physical Development – Health domain
    • Ready 4 Kindergarten (R4K) English language arts (ELA) Physical Well-Being and Motor Development domain
    • Teaching Strategies (TS) GOLD Physical subscale
  • Or, percentage of students meeting benchmarks on direct child assessment administered by teachers, healthcare professionals, or other qualified adults, such as the Peabody Developmental Motor Scale

Data Source(s)


Why it matters

Gross motor skills predict children’s social competencies and physical well-being, and are a gateway to engagement in learning and social activities, including sports and games, throughout the school years. Fine motor skills are associated more robustly with academic achievement. Preschool children from families with low incomes score significantly lower on direct assessments of visual and motor skills compared with children from families with higher incomes. As noted in the E-W system conditions section of this report, there is inequitable access to quality pre-K education that promotes positive outcomes for all children.

What to know about measurement

Children’s perceptual, motor, and physical development can be measured with direct child assessments. However, they may be burdensome to assess for all children. For example, the Peabody Developmental Motor Scale comprehensively assesses these interrelated motor abilities, but is composed of six subtests that measure reflexes, ability to control one’s body, ability to move from one place to another, ability to manipulate objects such as balls (for example, catching, throwing, kicking), ability to use one’s hands, and visual-motor integration. An increasingly common option to measure this indicator is through kindergarten readiness assessments that teachers can complete. These teacher-reported assessments, which include domains such as Physical Development – Health on the DRDP, ask teachers to rate children’s awareness of their own physical effort, body awareness, spatial awareness, and directional awareness.

Source frameworks

Kindergarten readiness appeared in five source frameworks reviewed for this report. Our proposed definition and measures align with the five domains of kindergarten readiness summarized in the Getting Ready framework, prepared by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT; they also are included in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

This website was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.