Why should we be interested in graphomotor skills?
First of all, because graphomotor skills, which are the cognitive, perceptual and motor skills that enable students to get their ideas down on paper in a quick and legible manner, have an impact on the development of writing proficiency. Indeed, as long as the physical act of writing is not relatively automated, writing difficulties may arise, because a child whose attention is focused on forming letters will struggle to concurrently manage spelling or other aspects of written production (such as planning and revision).
Our results indicate that the students who took part in the organized activities performed better in terms of writing fluency.
Furthermore, we have observed that many teachers still underestimate the role of graphomotor skills in writing development, and it has proven important to teach these skills to children at a young age.
In this context, a training program for practicing graphomotor skills during the first cycle of elementary school was developed and tested, and its effects on graphomotor skills, spelling and written production were evaluated. Fifteen teachers and 192 students took part in the study.
Our results indicate that the students who took part in the organized activities performed better in terms of writing fluency: they wrote more quickly and clearly than those students who did not take part. We also observed improvements in spelling and written expression (for example, production of words and phrases). Finally, no difference was observed between girls and boys when it came to performance.
Regarding the teachers, there appears to be a gap between their teaching practices and the needs of the students. The handwriting training program was designed to be easily integrated into other writing activities in the classroom and with the idea that teachers are in the best position to support each student according to his or her needs: it seems to be working!
Natalie Lavoie, Université du Québec à Rimouski
Deposit of the research report: February 2016