The present study assessed the relations between basic motor abilities in kindergarten and scholastic, social, and emotional adaptation in the transition to formal schooling. Seventy-one five-year-old kindergarten children were administered a battery of standard assessments of basic motor functions. A year later, children's adjustment to school was assessed via a series of questionnaires completed by the children and their class teachers. The results indicate that in addition to the already documented association between visual–motor integration and academic achievement, other motor functions show significant predictive value to both scholastic adaptation and social and emotional adjustment to school. The results further suggest a better prediction of scholastic adaptation and level of disruptive behaviour in school when using an aggregate measure of children's ability in various motor domains than when using assessments of singular motor functions. It is concluded that good motor ability may serve as a buffer to the normative challenges presented to children in the transition to school. In contrast, poor motor ability emerges as a vulnerability factor in the transition to formal schooling. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.