Handwriting Speed – 7 Evidence Based Factors for Students

Written output performance in the classroom is associated with handwriting speed.  If the child can not write with an appropriate speed it can be difficult to manage classroom assignments in a timely manner throughout the school day and during homework. School-based occupational therapy services sometimes address handwriting speed and legibility.

Handwriting Speed and Occupational Therapy – Evidence Based Factors

When trying to determine why a student may have slow handwriting speed you can start with these 7 evidence based factors that can affect handwriting speed:

  1. type of writing assignment – is the child free writing? near point copying? far point copying? writing from dictation?
  2. visual sequential memory – the ability to remember and recall a sequence of objects and/or events in the correct order.
  3. visual-motor integration skills – the ability to interpret visual information and respond with a motor action.
  4. upper limb speed and dexterity.
  5. poor paper positioning – (download a free hand out with proper paper positioning tips).
  6. visual perceptual abilities, specifically visual closure skills, plus in-hand manipulation skills appear to be significant predictors of children’s printing speed.
  7. both quality and speed of handwriting increases with years of schooling.
Handwriting Rubrics

Need to assess handwriting speed?  The Handwriting Rubrics packet has a rubric specific for handwriting speed.  Also included are rubrics for grades 2-8 that lists age appropriate letters per minute.  Find out more information.

Visual Perceptual and Handwriting Practice Pages

Visual Perceptual and Handwriting Practice Pages are activities to practice letter formation, visual motor, visual discrimination and visual spatial skills. Each letter page includes double line (Handwriting without Tears® style) and dotted line (Zaner-Bloser® style) format plus a visual perceptual activity related to the letter.  Find out more information and download a sample page.


Brown, T., & Link, J. (2016). The association between measures of visual perception, visual-motor integration, and in-hand manipulation skills of school-age children and their manuscript handwriting speed. British Journal of Occupational Therapy79(3), 163-171.

Duiser, I. H., Ledebt, A., van der Kamp, J., & Savelsbergh, G. J. (2020). Persistent handwriting problems are hard to predict: A longitudinal study of the development of handwriting in primary school. Research in Developmental Disabilities97, 103551.

Feder KP, Majnemer A (2007) Handwriting development, competency, and intervention. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 49(4): 312–317.

Franzsen D, Steward A (2014) Identifying the factors that contribute to hand writing problems experienced by students at a higher education institution in South Africa. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy 44(1): 3–8.

Tseng MH, Chow SMK (2000) Perceptual-motor function of school-age children with slow handwriting speed. American Journal of Occupational Therapy 54(1): 83–88.