UW News

September 24, 2001

Helping first graders master handwriting is goal of UW researchers

Now that the first weeks of the new school year are over, parents of some first-graders may notice that their children are having problems writing the alphabet. University of Washington researchers want to help, and they are looking for two dozen Puget Sound youngsters who are having difficulty mastering writing to participate in a study that includes an intervention component to help them.

“Handwriting problems early on should not be lightly dismissed because our research over the past 10 years shows this is a red flag for children who will later have writing problems,” said educational psychology professor Virginia Berninger, who is directing a new study. “It is important to find and fix handwriting problems early. Handwriting is a very fundamental skill.”
Berninger said some parents may have concerns about their child’s handwriting and it is visibly obvious that a child is struggling compared to other children. In other cases, handwriting problems may run in a family, or a teacher might indicate that a child is having problems.

Children who are accepted into the study will be given a free, six-week instructional program to help correct handwriting problems. This will require them to come to the UW twice a week after school.

Parents who wish to have their children participate in the study or have questions should contact Christina Johnson, research coordinator, (206) 616-6376.

This research project is one component of a larger study being directed by Berninger that is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

For more information, contact Berninger at (206) 616-6372 or vwb@u.washington.edu