The Influence of a Sensorimotor Handwriting Programme on the Emergent Handwriting Development and Motor Proficiency of Junior Infant Children


  • Sinéad McCauley Lambe Dublin City University
  • Orla Ní Bhroín Dublin City University
  • Marie Flynn Dublin City University


Motor Development, Handwriting, Emergent Handwriting, Infant Education, Motor Skills, Fundamental Movement, Sensorimotor, Inclusive Practice, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Visual Perception


The focus of this paper is on the influence of a sensorimotor handwriting programme on the emergent handwriting skills and motor proficiency of junior infant children attending DEIS and non-DEIS schools, and on the practice, knowledge and perceptions of their teachers in relation to sensorimotor development.

The study incorporated a mixed methods approach with two phases of data collection. The first phase involved assessment of fine and gross motor skills of 178 children from three DEIS schools and three non-DEIS schools using the standardised BOT-2 test (Bruininks & Bruininks, 2005). Assessment results provided the rationale for, and informed the adaptation and implementation of, a sensorimotor handwriting programme across the six participating schools. During phase two, the class teachers participated in a professional development initiative, following which they implemented the sensorimotor handwriting programme with the participating children over a 16-week period. Post-implementation of the programme, children were retested using the BOT-2, and semi-structured interviews were employed to gather information relating to changes in teachers’ perceptions, knowledge and practice in relation to sensorimotor development and the sensorimotor handwriting programme.

The key findings of this study revealed that children in the DEIS schools entered junior infants with lower motor proficiency than the children in non-DEIS schools, while post-implementation of the sensorimotor handwriting programme, there was no longer a statistically significant difference. What is clear from the participating teachers’ responses is that they gained new knowledge and understanding in relation to sensorimotor development and emergent handwriting skills, and that the sensorimotor handwriting programme was positively received and regarded. All ten of the participating teachers reported that children’s enjoyment and motivation in relation to handwriting increased.

Author Biographies

Orla Ní Bhroín, Dublin City University

Órla Ní Bhroin was a Senior Lecturer in the School of Inclusive and Special Education at the DCU Institute of Education until 2022. Her research interests are wide-ranging and include practices and pedagogy for inclusion, teacher educator pedagogy for developing student teachers' understanding of special educational needs and of practices for addressing diversity and inclusion, the impact of continuing professional development on teachers' understanding and use of the individual education plan in practice, evaluation of quality in professional preparation and development programmes for teachers, and qualitative research theory and practice.

Marie Flynn, Dublin City University

Marie Flynn is a lecturer in Sociology at the DCU Institute of Education. She is a member of the School of Human Development, and teaches on a range of programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Marie’s main teaching responsibilities are in the areas of: families and education; multiple intelligences; children’s rights and privacy in schools; and the sociology of childhood. Her research interests and publications are mainly in: diversity and education; parental involvement and schooling; homework; children’s rights and privacy; Traveller education; and school placement. Marie is currently the Research Convener for the School of Human Development at DCU.


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How to Cite

McCauley Lambe, S., Ní Bhroín, O., & Flynn, M. . (2023). The Influence of a Sensorimotor Handwriting Programme on the Emergent Handwriting Development and Motor Proficiency of Junior Infant Children. REACH: Journal of Inclusive Education in Ireland, 36(2). Retrieved from