Research results of the Schreibmotorik Institut: Most children start writing their name at the age of four
Pre-school children are usually highly motivated to learn to write. Through a survey of mothers, the Schreibmotorik Institut, Heroldsberg, has now investigated children’s first attempts at writing. After all, even in the digital age, handwriting is still of vital importance.
Most children – 61.4 per cent – start writing their name at the early age of four. In this age group, drawing skills are usually still not very well developed, yet it seems to be essential for children to be able to write their name at that stage. They do this on average about 400 times independently before their first day at school.
“Correctly writing their name and then receiving praise for it from adults is probably a child’s first conscious educational achievement”, explains Institute Director Dr. Marianela Diaz Meyer – and the pace of further development is accordingly high. “The discovery of handwriting is voluntary and intrinsically motivated by the curiosity and relentless will to learn to write”, says the ergonomics expert. After all, four and five-year-olds write their names an average of 3.8 times a week by hand, and 82 per cent of children enjoy doing so, according to their mothers. There is no difference between boys and girls: on average, they write their names with roughly the same frequency and enjoy it to the same extent. This raises the question as to where boys lose their motivation: according to the results of research carried out by the Schreibmotorik Institut, 51 per cent of boys have problems with handwriting.
Accompanying the process of learning to write as early as possible
Because more and more words are subsequently added, the majority of children should be writing by hand on a daily basis until their first day at school, according to the scientists at the Schreibmotorik Institut. “The fact that children enjoy writing and learning represents a great opportunity”, Dr. Diaz Meyer believes. “But it also entails a danger”, as “Children need to learn to precisely coordinate more than 30 muscles and 17 joints to develop the necessary motor skills to be able to guide pens as ‘precision tools’”.
The Schreibmotorik Institut’s recommendation to parents is: “Always make sure your child develops the correct sitting posture and pen hold as well as the right page position from the outset!” Mothers and fathers can save their children a great deal of problems with writing as well as incorrect posture in later life if they pay attention to the correct pen hold and page position, in order to ensure a more relaxed handwriting style. Much teachers’ and occupational therapists’ experience shows that relearning this later is almost impossible.