The Rapport du Comité d’experts sur l’apprentissage de l’écriture suggests that Québec children and teenagers are showing increasing difficulty with spelling, punctuation and syntax (MELS, 2008).

Internationally, writing problems are extremely prevalent in elementary school, peaking in fourth grade (NCES, 2003). It is also in fourth grade that students’ academic performance tends to stabilize (Alexander & Entwisle, 1998).

Internationally, writing problems are extremely prevalent in elementary school.

Given that these observations are rooted in the characteristics required for school entry, they should be part of a developmental perspective. Our literature review summarizes recent research findings on attention and fine motor problems in kindergarten and their relation to writing at the elementary school level. We address questions regarding current thoughts about: (1) The co-occurrence of fine motor and attention troubles and their associated problems, from preschool age onward; (2) How early fine motor and attention skills relate to later gender differences in student writing; (3) The most critical period in the consolidation of writing skills; (4) Possible explanations about the enormous variation in mastery across at-risk student populations; (5) How students with ADHD often have motor difficulties that can influence writing skills and (6) How early intervention aimed at boosting fine motor and attention skills could ultimately change the course of student skill trajectories in writing.  

Our literature review capitalizes on both the developmental neuropsychological and pedagogical perspectives to address these questions, and to show how early attention deficit and motor difficulties influence subsequent learning of spelling, punctuation and text composition. We present, in a concise manner, the latest research findings on two problems that are understudied and neglected but recognized by teachers as being important to academic success, from kindergarten onward.

Main researcher

Linda S. Pagani, Université de Montréal


Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: June 2012