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How to correct a poor pencil grip

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mystery10, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    How would you help a year 1 6 year old correct a poor pencil grip - well it's more the position of the hand that is wrong. Right handed, but curls hand round and holds the pencil either quite vertical or pointing inwards towards chest. Hope that makes sense.
    It's a habit which seems to have developed over the last 9 months or so; it seemed to be better before that and had greater control in the past when drawing shapes, mark making, and forming letters.

  2. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    How would you help a year 1 6 year old correct a poor pencil grip - well it's more the position of the hand that is wrong. Right handed, but curls hand round and holds the pencil either quite vertical or pointing inwards towards chest. Hope that makes sense.
    It's a habit which seems to have developed over the last 9 months or so; it seemed to be better before that and had greater control in the past when drawing shapes, mark making, and forming letters.

  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Could he be left-handed? Or, perhaps, is his brain still trying to make up its mind?
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If the child previously had a conventional grip then often they just need reminding and there are lots of products that encourage an effective grip
    but I think it is important to recognise that developmental stages for writing and actively teach the child how to hold a pencil when they get to the correct stage of physical development
  5. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thank you both. I had thought about maybe the left-hand right- hand switch, but I think it's really unlikely. She's my child and has been very definitely right handed for a long long time, unless of course she just didn't think of trying the other hand. I've done nothing either way, and nursery and school would not have done either.

    Those gadgets look good. The Stabilo pens I have tried but she can still do the hand crook with those, the second two look like they might encourage her in the right direction.
    What would you suggest as a fun exercise to do from time to time, very brief, that might help? She's not that great at sitting letters on the line, but I think this might be because she has such poor control at the moment. I really don't think this was an issue in the past - I look at stuff she did last Christmas when she had fun writing at home and it all sits on the line.
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I use a Busy Finger Box in the classroom but you could easily find most things at home
    1. Pegs -
    You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
    They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.
    2. Elastic bands -
    Elastic gymnastics! - Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.
    3. Beads -
    Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.
    4. Ball bearings and tweezers -
    Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.
    5. Floam / Playdough -
    These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.
    6. Doodle board -
    The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.
    7. Gummed Shapes -
    Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.
    8. Hama Beads -
    Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.
    9. Lacing cards -
    Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.
    10. Bean bags -
    Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)
    11. Chalk and blackboard -
    If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
    Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.
    12. Stencils -
    Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.
    13. Feathers -
    Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.
    14. Handhugger pens -
    Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.
    15. Tissue paper strips -
    Place the child's palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
    Repeat, but this time place the side of the child's hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
    These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.
    16. Stickers -
    Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.
    17. Peg boards -
    These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
    They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.
    and I'm a great believer in handwriting lines anddaily drill
  7. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I'm kind of assuming that she has had enough of this type of thing at nursery school, reception class and home, but you might well be right. She suffers a bit at home from being the second child so hasn't done many of the things I did with the first child if you see you what I mean, and reception was possibly affected by a teacher who was not well and finally went off sick part way through the year, and then just a series of stand-ins who were lovely but not early years trained.
    So I'll try some of them anyhow as they sound great fun.

    Handwriting lines and daily drill ---- what would you suggest - something brief and fun for home. She's quite good at getting up in the morning and doing a set task, she likes that, stickers, tick chart etc, so I shouldn't have too much difficulty making that happen before school so long as it is short and sweet.
  8. mystery10 - I am very concerned by the number of children I am seeing in primary schools, including right handers, who are hooking their wrists around so they are, in effect, writing from 'above' the letter shapes - this is looking pretty endemic!

    I draw attention to this in all the talks I do and during training events.
    I ask teachers to have a close look at how their pupils are writing.
    Do they hold their pencils or pens with the tripod grip?
    Do they sit with good posture and hold their paper steady with their free hand?
    Do they slightly tilt their paper, if necessary, and write UNDER the letter shapes?

    I am seriously concerned that teachers are not aware of this - and it is only relatively recently during school visits that I suddenly opened my eyes to the effect of writing letters from above the letter shapes and not under the letter shapes.
    We are so-called teaching children to write - but there is such a movement away from structured, direct teaching towards teaching by entertainment, lots of free choices and freedoms for children (e.g. do they hold their pencil 'comfortably' instead of do they hold their pencil 'correctly').
    So, I suggest that these are signs of the times - and we need to open up our eyes about the lack of careful, small step explicit teaching.
  9. And teaching handwriting via whiteboards sitting scrunched up on the floor and with fat marker pens.
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I find tongue twisters work well as you can focus on any letters that are problematic and giggle at the same time
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It's important that the teacher does ensure children are writing correctly from the very beginning and that includes using an effective pencil grip.
  12. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

  13. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    In the very short-term seem to have re-established the "tripod" pencil -hold (or "pincer-grip") so far as I can tell - whether it lasts is another matter. Will try all the other activities people have suggested. I don't want writing to become mother-daughter warfare!!
    But she still quite often hooks her hand round (right hander) i.e. bends too much at the elbow, and bends inwards at the wrist so that the pencil kind of points in towards her rather than outwards if you get my drift. Will the penagain and / or writing claw stop this habit? If not, what will? Wrist supports for roller blading??[​IMG]
    Any good clips on Youtube that either she or I would benefit from watching?
  14. I am so glad this topic has been brought up, my 13 year old has always had an improper grip. She is left handed and I am well aware of how she should sit, hold her pencil and postion her paper. To no avail, I have been unable to get her to hold her pens properly!
    I am currently a supply teacher and am often horrified by the grips I see in classes. The children know me as the teacher that tells them to hold their pencils differently and moves the left handers so the don't bump elbows with the children they are next to!
    My son holds his pencils perfectly, but my youngest, now 6 is following her sister. Even though right handed she will not hold pencils correctly. We try froggy legs on a log to add an element of fun, but it's a struggle. My worry is that, by year 2 bad pencil grip has become ingrained and almost impossible to rectify.
    Maybe the onus is on Nursey and Reception, to ensure children learn this vital skill.
  15. Where the EYFS guidance says 'effective grip', I don't think that's good enough.
    It is just open to interpretation - and an excuse - along with the ethos of so much being 'child-initiated' - to allow children to hold their pencils 'however' with the argument that it 'works for them'.
    I have been keen to promote small step, clear-message basic skills for many years - but I am becoming increasingly alarmed the more I visit schools.
    The schools have fab teachers, very dedicated, trying to make life inordinately interesting and exciting for children. I don't have any problem with that.
    But I do have a problem when I have to fight a corner for what I consider to be the most basic common sense regarding the MOST effective teaching LIKELY TO allow ALL the children to reach their full potential.
    I cannot 'just' bang on about the phonics, I am having to bang on about the simplest common sense like teaching the tripod grip routinely, teaching handwriting NOT on the floor with whiteboards and clip boards but sitting at correct height desks with good posture, holding the paper steady with the free hand, angling it slightly for full comfort, writing UNDER the letter shapes and not, virtually, upside-down with the 'hooked wrist' position as described by the OP.
    Regarding 'myths' or otherwise in the early years, advice is not consistent. I've seen local authority guidance where the word 'TEACH' is nowhere to be seen. Where practitioners are, effectively, INSTRUCTED to value 'process not product' and they are told to photograph ad infinitum. Why? To provide evidence - for whom?
    What we are in danger of creating is a whole workforce that spends more time worrying about Big Brother and what is 'expected' than thinking sensibly about what will best serve the children.
    I have yet to visit a primary school where the desks are faced forwards. Whilst I don't suggest for one minute that they should always face forwards, I do suggest that classroom layout etc. needs to be fit for purpose. If I'm teaching phonics which includes handwriting, core skills which require 'left-to-rightness', the BEST position is for children to be facing as square-on as possible to the whiteboard and/or screen and so on. Of course this is if the children even have desks.
    Then, when I introduce the core skills Activity Sheets, I have to battle to even persuade people that not only are they FIT FOR PURPOSE, that they are the MOST fit for purpose tool to teach all the core skills for the phonics, the blending, the handwriting, the phonemic awareness, the spelling-with-editing and so on.
    I think it is time that teachers - and advisors and inspectors - took a long, hard look at what is happening to the nation's children and whether all the HUGE goodwill to ensure school is rich and varied for our children is not ultimately doing them a disservice in some areas.
    Pencil-hold and handwriting being a key area to be concerned about.
  16. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I agree. The other thing is that I feel that it makes if harder for parents to correct things at home when anything is OK at school ............ or maybe it's just my kids that are stroppy! I have to resort to things like videos on youtube to illustrate the points I want to make; then it's not coming from me. I don't have much hope for the teenage years!!
    There are some handwriting without tears clips on youtube that make some quite good kiddy viewing if you pick the right ones. I don't think a 13 year old would like them though.
    I've always wondered if taking up the art of calligraphy would help an older child if they were interested in that. It's an excuse to start over again without it being anything to do with school work or a nag from a parent. Maybe a mum and daughter weekend away learning calligraphy on one of these short residential learning weekends could do something positive?
  17. I agree that it can be extremely difficult for parents to teach some things at home when the school isn't taking the lead - or the school is doing something different.
    To the children, it is usually the 'teacher' who has the final word and is always right!
    Of course, the children could choose to be manipulative and 'the teacher' may be seriously mispresented. The children may not want to cooperate, or be bothered, at home!
  18. Poor pen grip isn't a new issue though either.

    I'm now 30 years old and a teacher myself. I was the only left handed child in my class, and when it came to handwriting was "just left to get on with it", I write with two fingers over the pen and two fingers underneath. It works for me, and my handwriting is neat and legible.


    I'm very conscious that my own pen grip and way of writing is not the best example to the children in my class, and worry constantly about teaching handwriting to my class.
    I did try to change my pen grip as I got older (a lecturer at university forced me to write in correct tripod grip for an entire seminar session. I managed it, but got terrible cramp and my hand was really painful afterwards.)
  19. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Gosh - which two fingers do you put on top and under the pen?

    Debbie, oh I agree my children are definitely awkward at home. But if they were taught perfect pen hold at school they'd come home and lecture me in it too, so their "excuse" for resisting me trying to correct is that it doesn't matter at school .......... they are right it doesn't matter at school but wrong in trying to resist me. I'm a bad mother - easier to teach other people's children I find.

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