Comprehension of handwriting development: Pen-grip kinetics in handwriting tasks and its relation to fine motor skills among school-age children

Aust Occup Ther J. 2017 Oct;64(5):369-380. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12393. Epub 2017 May 16.


Background/aim: Numerous tools have been developed to evaluate handwriting performances by analysing written products. However, few studies have directly investigated kinetic performances of digits when holding a pen. This study thus attempts to investigate pen-grip kinetics during writing tasks of school-age children and explore the relationship between the kinetic factors and fine motor skills.

Methods: This study recruited 181 children aged from 5 to 12 years old and investigated the effects of age on handwriting kinetics and the relationship between these and fine motor skills. The forces applied from the digits and pen-tip were measured during writing tasks via a force acquisition pen, and the children's fine motor performances were also evaluated.

Results: The results indicate that peak force and average force might not be direct indicators of handwriting performance for normally developing children at this age. Younger children showed larger force variation and lower adjustment frequency during writing, which might indicate they had poorer force control than the older children. Force control when handling a pen is significantly correlated with fine motor performance, especially in relation to the manual dexterity.

Conclusions/significance of the study: A novel system is proposed for analysing school-age children's force control while handwriting. We observed the development of force control in relation to pen grip among the children with different ages in this study. The findings suggested that manipulation skill may be crucial when children are establishing their handwriting capabilities.

Keywords: fine motor performance; handwriting; kinetics; school-age children.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Handwriting*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pinch Strength / physiology