Second Graders’ Grapho-Motor Skill Learning and Verbal Learning: The Effects of Socio-Educational Factors

Chagit Hollander, Esther Adi-Japha

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4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Children from low socioeconomic status (SES) families, and in particular, those with a lower level of maternal education, show lower fine-motor skills and lower vocabulary scores than their SES peers whose mothers have a higher level of education. Furthermore, low SES children frequently have difficulties in reading and spelling. These difficulties are attributed to deficits in the acquisition of skills through practice, such as those required for developing visual-motor routines, alongside deficits in the intentional acquisition of knowledge, such as those required in verbal learning. The aim of the current study was to test the effect of two background factors: low maternal education (ME) and risk of reading and spelling difficulties on practice-dependent learning of a motor task and intentional learning of a verbal task in second graders from low SES families. Methods: In 2016/17, 134 low-SES second graders with higher and lower ME (95 typical learners and 39 with reading and spelling difficulties) were assessed with (a) the Invented Letter Task (ILT; a grapho-motor skill learning task) across five time-points (initial- and end-training Day 1; initial- and end-training Day 2; and 2-weeks post-training), as well as an ILT transfer task; and (b) The Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT; an intentional word-learning task in which a word list is read to children for five learning trials and is recalled 20 min later). Findings: Lower ME was associated with surplus segments in the performance of the motor task and its transfer to a novel condition as well as with lower recall on the verbal task, but not with the learning of both the motor and the verbal task. Having reading and spelling difficulties affected motor-task accuracy and also the way children learned the task, as evidenced by surplus segments at the beginning of Day 2, which were reduced with further practice. Conclusion: Low ME affected overall performance level. Reading and spelling difficulties resulted in atypical learning of the motor task. Future research on practice-dependent learning in the context of children coming from low SES families should focus on subgroups within this heterogeneous population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number687207
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 12 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Hollander and Adi-Japha.


CH research was funded by Bar-Ilan University’s President’s scholarship (for Honored Ph.D. students) and by the Schupf fellowship program.

FundersFunder number
Bar-Ilan University


    • developmental dyslexia
    • grapho-motor learning
    • implicit-memory
    • literacy
    • low-SES children
    • maternal education level
    • procedural-learning
    • verbal-learning


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