Handwriting is a kinesthetic activity. Kinesthetic memory is thought to be the earliest, strongest, and most reliable form of memory within the human language learning experience.
Research results support the importance of learning handwriting, letter and word-forming skills activity as a factor in learning to read. Handwriting is thought to aid (spellers) in remembering orthographic patterns.
Specific frequent spellings are used for each of the consonant and vowel phonemes in English. Handwriting develops recognition for the patterns and application of the rules, increases fluency, improves legibility and assists in organization of thoughts.
Spelling typically improves with increased handwriting legibility. Letter tracing and copying aid fine and gross motor skill(s) development and promotes necessary skills for reading and writing. Instruction in writing and spelling often comes before instruction in reading thus efforts to promote phonemic awareness through teaching of letter names and sounds and phonemic segmentation begin while children are in their earliest structured learning environments.
Naming letters aloud while tracing or copying them helps to “bind the visual, motor and phonological images of the letter together at once”. (Stempel, Mathey and Wolf, Teaching Handwriting pp 260). Handwriting is thus a critical part of the process of learning to read. Earlier is better.