Previous studies have shown the relevance of the syllable as a programming unit in handwriting production, both in adults and elementary school children. This longitudinal study focuses on the acquisition of writing skills in a group of preschoolers. It examines how and when the syllable structure of the word starts regulating motor programming in handwriting. Eighteen five year old preschoolers copied six-letter Catalan words (disyllabic and trisyllabic) on a digitiser at three different times over the academic year (January, March, and May). The words were written in uppercase letters. We measured the duration of the inter-letter intervals (ILI) to gather information on the timing of motor programming. The results indicated that from January to March the children were mostly focused on movement proficiency. The results also showed different profiles of ILI duration for the two types of words over the three sessions. For disyllabic words, the syllable regulated movement programming in January; for trisyllabic words, this happened in March. This suggests that the syllable already plays a role in the programming of handwriting movements in kindergarten. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.