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Later literacy success hinges on early handwriting lessons

Later literacy success hinges on early handwriting lessons

Image: A kid drawing or writing. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Full article issued by Murdoch University.

Murdoch University researchers have shown the far-reaching implications of handwriting skills in early childhood. In an Australian first, the team examined the handwriting abilities of children prior to starting Year 1. The project forms part of a larger ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) project awarded to Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak examining the development of children's independent learning skills, higher order thinking processes, and academic outcomes in the first two years of schooling in Western Australia (WA).

The researchers examined 177 kindergarten children enrolled in 23 classrooms from seven primary schools in WA, and these students were monitored to assess the development of their handwriting skills from the end of pre-primary and throughout Year 1. The team measured the variation in automaticity levels amongst the children at the end of Pre-Primary (first year of compulsory education in WA) and investigated the degree to which existing variation could be explained by teacher's practices for writing instruction.

They found that writing instruction in Australian classrooms is highly variable. The Australian curriculum outlines that children are expected to develop skills like identifying and correctly forming letters, and learn to create short texts during pre-primary and Year 1. However, teachers are approaching this goal with very different strategies, with a big variation in how much time is spent on teaching writing and on the nature of the skills being taught, from turning sounds into letters to the planning of ideas to express in writing. Their results indicated that 20 per cent of the difference in children's level of handwriting automaticity could be attributed to the teacher's strategies in the classroom even when accounting for children's gender and reading skills.

Media issued by Murdoch University.

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