Learning to write: The role of handwriting for Chinese spelling in kindergarten children.

Given the orthographic complexities of Chinese characters, handwriting skills may play an important role in how children learn to write Chinese. The present study includes a comprehensive battery of handwriting measures in relation to Chinese spelling in young children. Measures of handwriting, including stroke order, visual-motor integration (Hebrew and Vietnamese copying) and handwriting fluency, along with other reading-related cognitive skills, were administered to 141 kindergartners in Hong Kong schools. We assessed the extent to which these handwriting measures are associated with spelling. A series of regression analyses revealed that the handwriting measures altogether significantly contributed to children’s spelling performance, with age, nonverbal reasoning, and vocabulary knowledge statistically controlled. Handwriting fluency and Vietnamese copying were unique correlates of spelling even after considering all well-established cognitive measures, including morphological awareness, orthographic awareness, and phonological awareness. The finding also highlights the importance of orthographic awareness: Both sensitivity to Chinese character structure and understanding of the function of semantic radicals are crucial to children’s early spelling abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)