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Correcting Pencil Grips Any Tips


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Hi last year in reception the majority of my children came into school could not hold their pencils correctly. There were about a third of my children who had had no interest in markmaking pre school and had therefore hardly held a pencil/paintbrush etc but the rest of the children were writing their own names and had good pencil control but their pencil grip was still awful. We worked really hard with the children using various pencil grips, getting parents involved and helping children to reposition if they weren't holding their pencil correctly but we found it almost impossible to reverse the bad habits of those who had already learnt to hold a pencil incorrectly. I am aware that I have sent up a class to Y1 the majority of whom are not holding their pencil correctly. Does anyone have any top tips? I am determined to crack this next year.

Deb

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I am also determined to crack this one!

 

But .........

 

Bit of a dilemna re control vs grip - good control with an iffy grip is ok when you are 5 and writing a sentence or three - but....... fast forward to secondary school when you have to write reams, quickly in exams and your hand soon becomes cramped and tired if you have an incorrect grip - my son had this very issue because he was allowed to use any grip he wanted to use! Children are not allowed to use computers in exams as yet, so handwriting continues to be an important skill.

 

Part of the problem is that chidlren are too soon forced to use one hand even thought they are not yet ready to do so - even in Y1!

 

I have just bought the 'Write dance' programme and will be using elements of this from September - scrimbling etc.

 

I am also changing the status of the pencil grip! I read this idea on ABC does a blog site - In order to get a support grip the child needs to go to the HT for this 'special present' - its a treat to have one!

 

Good luck!

 

Jenni

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Guest LornaW

Saw another good idea on some training. You have a pot of rings with interesting tops so for example Ben10, pirates, fairies etc and when children go to the writing table or to get a pencil they put a ring on their index finger and the rule is you can see the ring when you are writing so it helps you with the correct grip!

 

Lorna

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This is something we have always been concerned about in pre-school. I've asked so often for advice about how to prevent children getting into bad habits but no-one has ever really been that helpful!

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The best advice I was ever given, and it works, is to give a child a really small scrap of pencil and they have to hold it right in a tripod grip.

 

Another school of thought, which sometimes works is to put the pencil on the table above their paper with the point towards the child, when they pick it up it automatically goes into the correct grip. This helps on an initial 'grip' but after a few seconds children often revert to their own method.

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Hi

I used to struggle with this one BUT read on as this this next comment may be a bit controversial

 

Don't fret about it!

 

After working with pre schoolers and in schools for many years and trying to overcome the 'pencil grip' issue - I was really surprised when my own middle daughter held her pencil in a bizarre manner. She went to nursery school who tried all ways to 'correct' it, and I myself bought the little triangular grips and other methods BUT there was no way she would /could change. All through primary school at parent's evenings we were presented with teachers bringing this matter up. It became demoralising for us let alone our daughter. Yet when asking was there an issue with her handwriting / flow, the staff said not at present but will be in high school. My daughter's handwriting was fine and she had control of the pencil, she had also won various art competitions too. High school time arrived and how refreshing! the teachers only mentioned the issue in a positive light with comments such as 'not sure how she does it, but her work is always well presented. If it works then go with it.

She is now entering her 3rd year at Uni - studying - FINE ART - where precision drawing is at the forefront - she is coming out of each semester with firsts and 2.1's and still uses the same grip as she did when she was 3.

I have changed my attitude completely to this issue now and will not attempt to change the grip of any child if they are comfortable, happy and in control of their mark making.

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I quite agree with the previous statement about how it can be demoralising to be forced into a particular grip. That is why I thought that the ELG handwriting statement regarding an 'effective' grip was good- to me this was interpreted as being as long as the child could forms letters correctly it did not matter how they held their pencil - leaving room for those children who do not automatically use a tripod/pincer grip to write with the freedom to decide what is comfortable for them.

 

Unfortunately it seems that this is being replaced in the new document with 'correct' grip - e.g. a tripod grip. In my opinion this is a huge oversight and leads us back to the days where pressure is put upon certain children to conform; who knows next we will be making left handers switch to being right :o

 

The idea of the rings is a good one to. It originally appeared in an old Literacy video from the strategies department. I got a cheap pack of 'party' favour rings from our local Birthdays card shop and use as and when appropriate for those really struggling. Seems to work well

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Does anyone have any top tips? I am determined to crack this next year.

Deb

 

 

I have just bought the 'Write dance' programme and will be using elements of this from September - scrimbling etc.

 

Hi Deb,

 

We've used Write Dance as Jenni mentioned, and found that it did help, they use both hands too - so takes away the pressure for choosing a dominant hand too early.

 

Another effective technique in my experience is saying that the thumb and index fingers are frogs legs (which hold the pencil) and they rest on the log - the third finger, with the other two fingers tucked away. The boys particularly like this one. We also get them to exercise their frogs legs every now and then to further improve their grip. My children enjoy this and it can be a good way of bringing their attention back to you during carpet times.

 

We also bought light up pens and thick pencils and marker pens and anything else that excited the children to go in the mark-making area and we have little signs up there reminding them about their grip.

 

Hope it helps

 

Ffydd

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The latest advice is that a child should have an "effective" grip and that this may not be the conventional tripod method

While the most efficient way to hold a pencil is the dynamic tripod grasp many other patterns are commonly seen in children and it does not always require intervention or modification. In the dynamic tripod grasp, the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger.

 

 

Functional Grasp Patterns

Tripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.

 

Quadripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb, index finger, and third finger and rests against the side of the fourth finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.

 

Adaptive tripod or D'Nealian grasp: The pencil is held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil. The pencil rests against the side of the third finger near its end.

 

Immature Grasp Patterns

Fisted grasp: The pencil is held in a fisted hand with the point of the pencil on the fifth finger side on the hand. This is typical of very young children.

 

Pronated grasp: The pencil is held diagonally within the hand with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil. This is typical of children ages 2 to 3.

 

Inefficient Grasp Patterns

Five finger grasp: The pencil is held with the tips of all five fingers. The movement when writing is primarily on the fifth finger side of the hand.

 

Thumb tuck grasp: The pencil is held in a tripod or Quadripod grasp but with the thumb tucked under the index finger.

 

Thumb wrap grasp: The pencil is held in a tripod or Quadripod grasp but with the thumb wrapped over the index finger.

 

Tripod grasp with closed web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger. The thumb is rotated toward the pencil, closing the web space.

 

Finger wrap or inter digital brace grasp: The index and third fingers wrap around the pencil. The thumb web space is completely closed.

 

Flexed wrist or hooked wrist: The pencil can be held in a variety of grasps with the wrist flexed or bent. This is more typically seen with left-hand writers but is also present in some right-hand writers.

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I did exactly the same! Thanks folks for all your tips and thanks marion for your post which was really useful. While several children fell into the functional category, a large number were still in the immature or ineffiecient category and will I imagine struggle with writing as they move further through the school with the grip that they currently have.

 

I could never not do anything about correcting a child's pencil grip, I have taught too many children in KS2 who are stuck with an inefficient pencil grip and are really struggling with writing quickly and fluidly.

I really like the 2 frogs on a log idea and will try this and we are also triallling write dance as well, fingers crossed!

 

Deb

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Hi Deb, I did warn you that my post may be controversial, - hope it was read with an open mind and no offence intended. Similarly to you I can still see the pitfalls of an incorrect grip - however I felt that I had to share my own experience because more damage was being done to my daughters self esteem and her reluctance to mark make for those teachers who kept constantly referring to her 'incorrect' grip - she was a very shy child and needed her confidence boosting, not made to feel she had a 'problem'.

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Hi Deb, I did warn you that my post may be controversial, - hope it was read with an open mind and no offence intended. Similarly to you I can still see the pitfalls of an incorrect grip - however I felt that I had to share my own experience because more damage was being done to my daughters self esteem and her reluctance to mark make for those teachers who kept constantly referring to her 'incorrect' grip - she was a very shy child and needed her confidence boosting, not made to feel she had a 'problem'.

 

of course not!, good to hear both sides and good to know that it is possible that whatever their pencil grip children can develop good pencil control. I have a left handed son who has a hook like grip and i've tried so many things to help him as he was really struggling with his writing but like you I needn't have worried as something just clicked with him this year (Y5) and he was able even with his grip to do the most beautiful and quick cursive writing. I just think as a teacher I cannot take the 'do nothing because it will sort itself out in the end' approach but your post did highlight that we need to be sensitive in our approach to children in helping them with their pencil grip (I would like to think I am!)

 

Deb

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Hi SmileyPR

 

In answer to your question...

No quite the opposite, she does not suffer from physical tiredness when writing/drawing at all - yet I know my hand aches sometimes after a lot of writing. She spends most of the day working on her art projects.

 

Apart from drawing she obviously has to write course assignments and sit timed written exams at Uni. She came out with 10 A's and 1 B at GCSE level, and 2 A's and a B at A level. She loves to draw and holds her pencil in between Toby tall and Ruby ring (oops sorry - couldn't resist) she is right handed yet writes with her hand bent into some awkward 'hook' shape position similarly to some left handed people I have observed - so as you can imagine some teachers had a struggle with accepting this grip as it looks so uncomfortable - she was adamant even as a child that she couldn't physically hold a pencil any other way and used to get very upset that people didn't believe her. She won many drawing competitions as a little girl, and her biggest achievement at primary school was age 10 - winning first prize for a well known pharmaceutical company drawing a winter picture for their calendar competition, unfortunately one teacher rather than celebrating her achievement commented with words to the effect of "how did she manage that with her grip!!" So I think the answer as mentioned by BusybeeDeb is for teachers to remain sensitive, and if a child can control the pencil effectively then go with it. My daughter is now 20 and often comments on how she was treated in primary school, she wonders what those teachers would make of her now. I have no idea how she does it, but we are glad we didn't make an issue of it at home and encouraged her to use her skill!

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Thanks myhenroxanne!

 

I am glad to hear about this because it makes me feel better of the decision I took this past term with a child. She had been having 'problems' achieving the 'correct' pencil grip, even with all the tips and trick that I gave her. The girl could not understand why it was 'wrong' now when it was okay when she was younger. I did explain to her that it is part of growing up, like when you need 2 training wheels beside your bike. She sort of understood and kept trying. Nevertheless, she complained about getting tired after a while and she even told her mum she did not understand why she had to hold her pencil otherwise if she had nice handwriting and when it just became more difficult and 'messier' (not true though... LOL) when she would use the 'proper' grip. When I heard this, I just 'gave up' and told her mum and, indeed, her daughter had nice handwriting and that we should just let go and see how it went for the child. I do emphasise, though, that a child should sit properly and not on a leg or over the desk... for health reasons (better blood circulation, better back posture, etc.)

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