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Effective Pencil Control - Advice Please


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Hi Everyone,

 

Just want a little bit of advice here please - I have a few boys who even though they have wonderful manipulative skills small world, tiny construction etc, they are not holding their pencil "correctly" as their parents would put it - I know when I went on a course re boys and use of pencils/pens it was discussed how boys hands developmentally are not ready for intricate hand writing until sometimes at around the age of 5. I have said to the parents concerned, that as the boys love to draw - are beginning to form letters in their name we should not intrude too much - I feel an adult saying "hold your pen in a certain way will turn the boys off to the wonderful marks they are making. They are creating wonderful paintings and painting their names - what do you guys out there do - should I carry on just allowing them to explore and leave them alone ? should I buy pencil grips ? - or do I in a nice way talk to them about holding their pencil in a "correct way" - though they are using the mark making equipment effectively to them ?

 

I did have feedback from a parent recently who said that the reception teacher had said to her when her son started "he is not holding is pencil properly ?" - I do want to be proactive with this so any support or advice you can give me would be wonderful.

 

Thanks Dot :o

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My son never held his pencil properly whilst at pre-school. I personally, did not tell him for fear of putting him off his mark making. He soon learnt how to do it at school when his muscles were more developed and the teaching assistant there was very experienced at getting the boys to do this. However, I am a second time round mum (first was a gir who loved to colour and write correcty :o ) This time round not bothered about the "mummy mafia" as I call them! They can compete with each other as much as they like. They all get there in the end why risk putting them off at such an early age.

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Hi Dot

 

I would advocate 'modelling' the correct grip using a range of mark making media, as im sure as practitioners you will do lots of anyway. I feel that once children get into a 'habit' of holding their pencil in a particular way, it becomes harder to break the habit as time goes on and in fact I have found that this then delays their development as they are unable to control the 'pencil' effectively to add detail to their work / letter formation etc. Obviously I wouldn't make a big deal about correcting a child's grip. I would offer praise for any attempts they make and make a suggestion eg "Have you tried holding your pencil like this? Let's have a go? etc Although I certainly wouldn't make a fuss of it.

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I did an Early Writing course sometime ago and we were told that young children often dont have the physical skills to hold a pencil correctly until around 8 years old and for some it can actually hurt to hold their fingers 'properly' on a pencil.

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If they are creating lovely paintings and making good attempts at the names, why does it matter how they hold a pencil? My friend has the strangest pencil grip but is effective in what she writes.

I wouldnt worry about it :o

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Put the pencil on the table tip (lead) facing towards the child. use 'pincer' fingers to pick it up near the tip. They will automatically position pencil back (hopefully) and hold it in the correct position. Try it!!

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Put the pencil on the table tip (lead) facing towards the child. use 'pincer' fingers to pick it up near the tip. They will automatically position pencil back (hopefully) and hold it in the correct position. Try it!!

That sounds like a good tip- I'll try that one.

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Hi,

Contrary to some of your previous replies, I think that the correct pencil grip is important and shouldn't be left to chance. In nursery chidren are doing lots of activities that will help them to develop their pincer grip - squeezing clothes pegs - hanging clothes on the line, picking up small objects, placing pegs in peg boards, breaking off little pieces of play dough and rolling them between thumb and index finger, songs like 'one finger one thumb keep moving, other finger rhymes, popping bubble wrap etc. In reception we do show those children who are ready how to hold a pencil correctly - have pencil on table pointing towards your tummy, pick it up using index finger and thumb, swing it back so that it sits in the web of your hand, let it rest on middle finger.

A good rhyme to say is

1 2 3 4

are your feet, flat on the floor

5 6 7 8

Is your back nice and straight

9 10 11 12

Check the way your pencil's held.

Young children who form inefficient pencil grips sometimes (not always) have difficulty when they are older and need to write quickly and legibly. It is virtually impossible to change an incorrect pencil grip

after the child has been writing for a year or so.

I have worked in special needs with older KS2 children with handriting difficulties. The majority of these chidren have developed some very inefficient pencil grips and have difficulty in producing legible handwriting - still I suppose they can all become doctors.

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I agree with you Elbee having seen how children struggle in Y2 and then in KS2 if they have not developed a good pincer grip earlier, but developed habits which are so ingrained that they cannot be changed easily. Isn't it at around 8 years old that the hand/finger muscles are fully developed to cope with writing fluency, and prior to that children need practice to develop their muscles properly? With poor habits children find it hard to keep up and are turned off writing. On the other hand I don't think that young children should be pressurised so much that it puts them off mark-making altogether. Some of the difficulty starts from expecting too much too soon in terms of using pencils etc. As in all things I think that there needs to be a balance, so that the children are given opportunities to mark-make and are shown how to hold the tool, much in the same way as we support them in learning to use a scissors when cutting out. A pencil is as much a tool as a spoon, knife, scissors, crayon, hammer, paint brush etc. and we would demonstrate and encourage the effective use of these. What matters is a positive supportive approach and making it fun and interesting.

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Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for all your advice and feedback - I feel I should show the children how to hold a pencil and of course in a supportive and fun way - so I will take on board all the advice given.

 

My daughter at 14 years has never held her pencil "correctly" though this is due to hyper mobility - sadly her fingers are growing all crooked - teachers have often commented on her badly formed writing, but they have never noticed her fingers until I point this out - so we do all have differnces how wonderful we are all different. :o

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Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for all your advice and feedback - I feel I should show the children how to hold a pencil and of course in a supportive and fun way - so I will take on board all the advice given.

 

My daughter at 14 years has never held her pencil "correctly" though this is due to hyper mobility - sadly her fingers are growing all crooked - teachers have often commented on her badly formed writing, but they have never noticed her fingers until I point this out - so we do all have differnces how wonderful we are all different. :o

Dot - I'm really interested in your comment about your daughters hypermobility and her 'crooked fingers' - my youngest grandaughter - 2.5 - has hypermobility and almost certainly a chromsome disorder (this still being investigated) - she is incredibly flexible and her poor little feet are in the 'ten to two' position - but in addition to these problems her two little fingers are very bent - one can be straightend manually the other cannot be moved at all - specialist has said that this has no connection with her hypermobility???

 

She is such a little sweetie and we do all worry so much for her - she is v. thin has been marked as 'failure to thrive' and her physical development has been delayed - hence the further investigations - she has had three blood tests that have been sent to the genetics centre in London - the second of which they managed to loose - results take between 3 - 6 months to come back - seems such a long time.

 

Anyway I'm rambling on here - I take on board there are children with much worse problems out there - but I am interested to hear your daughters story if you feel able to 'share'.

 

Sunnyday

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Hi,

Contrary to some of your previous replies, I think that the correct pencil grip is important and shouldn't be left to chance.

 

 

 

Dots title was Effective pencil control, she had already said the children were 'creating lovely paintings and making good attempts at the names' thats what I would call having an effective pencil control. There are many ways of holding a pencil for it to be used effectively, like all development the 'correct' grip comes to most sooner or later and with the activities you describe being available in all good settings the opportunities for development are not left to chance.

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I have a little tale about a crocodile who likes to eat pencils which helps the boys 'eat' their pencils correctly ready to write

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