Handwriting development, competency, and intervention


  • Katya P Feder PhD OT(C),

    Corresponding author
    1. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, School of Optometry, University of Montreal
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  • Annette Majnemer PhD OT(C)

    1. School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, and Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Pediatrics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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* Correspondence to first author at 187 Goulburn Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8E3, Canada. E-mail: kfeder@cyberus.ca


Failure to attain handwriting competency during the school-age years often has far-reaching negative effects on both academic success and self-esteem. This complex occupational task has many underlying component skills that may interfere with handwriting performance. Fine motor control, bilateral and visual–motor integration, motor planning, in-hand manipulation, proprioception, visual perception, sustained attention, and sensory awareness of the fingers are some of the component skills identified. Poor handwriting may be related to intrinsic factors, which refer to the child's actual handwriting capabilities, or extrinsic factors which are related to environmental or biomechanical components, or both. It is important that handwriting performance be evaluated using a valid, reliable, standardized tool combined with informal classroom observation and teacher consultation. Studies of handwriting remediation suggest that intervention is effective. There is evidence to indicate that handwriting difficulties do not resolve without intervention and affect between 10 and 30% of school-aged children. Despite the widespread use of computers, legible handwriting remains an important life skill that deserves greater attention from educators and health practitioners.