Development of early handwriting: Visual-motor control during letter copying.

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TitleDevelopment of early handwriting: Visual-motor control during letter copying.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMaldarelli, JE, Kahrs, BA, Hunt, SC, Lockman, JJ
JournalDev Psychol
Date Published2015 Jul
KeywordsAdult, Child, Eye Movements, Female, Handwriting, Humans, Learning, Male, Psychomotor Performance

Despite the importance of handwriting for school readiness and early academic progress, prior research on the development of handwriting has focused primarily on the product rather than the process by which young children write letters. In contrast, in the present work, early handwriting is viewed as involving a suite of perceptual, motor, and cognitive abilities, which must work in unison if children are to write letters efficiently. To study such coordination, head-mounted eye-tracking technology was used to investigate the process of visual-motor coordination while kindergarten children (N = 23) and adults (N = 11) copied individual letters and strings of letters that differed in terms of their phonemic properties. Results indicated that kindergarten children were able to copy single letters efficiently, as did adults. When the cognitive demands of the task increased and children were presented with strings of letters, however, their ability to copy letters efficiently was compromised: Children frequently interrupted their writing midletter, whereas they did not do so on single letter trials. Yet, with increasing age, children became more efficient in copying letter strings, in part by using vision more prospectively when writing. Taken together, the results illustrate how the coordination of perceptual, motor, and cognitive processes contributes to advances in the development of letter writing skill.

Alternate JournalDev Psychol
PubMed ID26029821
PubMed Central IDPMC4478098
Grant ListR01 HD043842 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD067581 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
5R01HD043842 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
5R01HD067581 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
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