Get a grip!

So, we have our new phonics system to help my daughter to read and write. We have the workbooks and the pupils books, and I’m waiting for some word cards from Amazon. The main focus of our attention however is being aware of how the pencil is held. A bad pencil grip means an inefficient writing style with various consequences for the young writer in the future. As luck would have it, a solution arrived in the post from England.

This is not my specialist field, but a little research on the interweb will bring up many resources for parents looking to correct their ham-fisted offspring. OT (Occupational Therapy) Mom is one such site. Click here to read her advice on correct pencil grip. The page includes descriptions, photos, exercises and a warning against forcing very young children into a correct grip before they are developmentally ready. My daughter is four now, and if we had not begun to practice writing I might not have been so concerned, but I felt that if she could begin correctly she would progress more smoothly and feel more comfortable writing in both her languages in the future.

So what arrived in the post?

Big pencil crayons. Thanks mum! You will notice on the OT Mom site that she suggests pencil grips can help a child to grip properly. Small fingers are still developing and a wider circumference is easier to grip. I didn’t have one to hand, but these big pencil crayons do the job just as well. They have the added bonus of being hexagonal, which gives her flat surfaces to rest fingers on, and colourful, which every child likes. Letter practice in the mornings now goes something like “Well, let’s do the S in green, the T in pink and the A in orange”.

As mentioned on the OT Mom site, home-schooling parents need to be aware of the holistic approach to handwriting. The whole body must be considered. Young children cannot be expected to multi-task, and so I make sure that I’m sitting next to her during our 10 minute practice time in the morning to move the workbook to the best angle, to move her chair in just a little closer to the desk or to straighten her arm if she starts to write at a funny angle. No pressure, that’s why only 10 minutes a day, but I do believe that parental involvement and intervention is necessary sometimes to help children move along. Once she has the basics I’ll back off.

Since I started teaching her to read, I have always stayed with idea that she should do it if she wants to. It’s not always easy to create a culture of ‘want to do’ , but so far it has worked out nicely. I hope I can report favourably on this in the future.

Have any experiences in this field? Let me know.

Quick update. After writing the above, I went looking for pencil grips and found these gel type grips that have two vertical and one diagonal indents to aid correct grip. They are gel-plastic so easy to grip and squashy so comfortable. Marvelous little things really, and cheap!

03/08 I have found a nice video on you tube with a very helpful tip on getting your child holding a pencil correctly. Watch it here.

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