Dr. Marianela Diaz MeyerJanuary 2019

KirchenZeitung Diözese Linz: an interview with Dr. Marianela Diaz Meyer about Handwriting Day

The Austrian church magazine KirchenZeitung Diözese Linz has dedicated two pages to an interview with institute director Dr. Marianela Diaz Meyer on the importance of handwriting. An overview of the most important points.


Dr. Marianela Diaz MeyerWhat are the most important criteria of handwriting?
It’s not the writing itself that is crucial, rather the movements that give rise to the writing. These are called writing motor skills. Three aspects are necessary for good handwriting: legibility, speed and stamina.

From what age should writing motor skills be paid attention to?
Most children start writing their name at the age of four. That is the right time to playfully maintain and promote a passion for writing through movement exercises.

What are the most common problems when learning to write?
Amongst the most common problems are a bad, cramped pen-hold, illegible handwriting and writing too slowly. This was confirmed by a nationwide survey of teachers that the Schreibmotorik Institut carried out as far back as 2015. The latest results of the STEP survey will be published in spring.

What differentiates writing by hand from typing on a keyboard?
When we write by hand, we learn distinctive letter shapes. These memorised hand movements promote cognitive ability, which neuroscientific research has confirmed. When we type, the same movement onto a key always ensues, regardless of what letters we are writing.

What lies behind these handwriting problems?
Children are generally spending less and less time playing games that teach fine motor skills. That has an effect upon writing ability later on, because some of the necessary motor skills are lacking. Schools and nurseries should take counter measures against this.

Does handwriting need to be rescued?
Digitalisation is not necessarily an adversary. In fact, it provides opportunities for combining learning motor skills with modern technology. The integration of handwriting is already emerging in technology that use handwriting as an input medium, such as interactive whiteboards. The writing movements that create the writing are important here. Handwriting is therefore absolutely fit for the future, because: handwriting educates!

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