Ready for handwriting? A reference data study on handwriting readiness assessments

Helga Haberfehlner, Liesbeth de Vries, Edith H. C. Cup, Imelda J. M. de Groot, Maria W. G. Nijhuis-van der Sanden, Margo J. van Hartingsveldt

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Abstract

Introduction
Early evaluation of writing readiness is essential to predict and prevent handwriting difficulties and its negative influences on school occupations. An occupation-based measurement for kindergarten children has been previously developed: Writing Readiness Inventory Tool In Context (WRITIC). In addition, to assess fine motor coordination two tests are frequently used in children with handwriting difficulties: the modified Timed Test of In-Hand Manipulation (Timed TIHM) and the Nine-Hole Peg Test (9-HPT). However, no Dutch reference data are available.

Aim
To provide reference data for (1) WRITIC, (2) Timed-TIHM and (3) 9-HPT for handwriting readiness assessment in kindergarten children.

Methods
Three hundred and seventy-four children from Dutch kindergartens in the age of 5 to 6.5 years (5.6±0.4 years, 190 boys/184 girls) participated in the study. Children were recruited at Dutch kindergartens. Full classes of the last year were tested, children were excluded if there was a medical diagnosis such as a visual, auditory, motor or intellectual impairment that hinder handwriting performance. Descriptive statistics and percentiles scores were calculated. The score of the WRITIC (possible score 0–48 points) and the performance time on the Timed-TIHM and 9-HPT are classified as percentile scores lower than the 15th percentile to distinguish low performance from adequate performance. The percentile scores can be used to identify children that are possibly at risk developing handwriting difficulties in first grade.

Results
WRITIC scores ranged from 23 to 48 (41±4.4), Timed-TIHM ranged from 17.9 to 64.5 seconds (31.4± 7.4 seconds) and 9-HPT ranged from 18.2 to 48.3 seconds (28.4± 5.4). A WRITIC score between 0–36, a performance time of more than 39.6 seconds on the Timed-TIHM and more than 33.8 seconds on the 9-HPT were classified as low performance.

Conclusion
The reference data of the WRITIC allow to assess which children are possibly at risk developing handwriting difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0282497
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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