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Does anyone have any advice on dealing with a child who can't hold a pencil in the correct way. I've been approached by a parent who's daughter starts reception in January and she is quite concerned about her daughters awkward pencil grip.

The only advice I could give was trying one of those rubber grips to go on a pencil is this right?

Dose it matter at this stage if a child dosen't hold a pencil properly? I would of thought it was important to let the child experiment and gain confidence in writing before you make it more difficult by trying to change the way they grip their pencil! Is this right? can anyone advise me on what to tell the parent? :o

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Does anyone have any advice on dealing with a child who can't hold a pencil in the correct way. I've been approached by a parent who's daughter starts reception in January and she is quite concerned about her daughters awkward pencil grip.

The only advice I could give was trying one of those rubber grips to go on a pencil is this right?

Dose it matter at this stage if a child dosen't hold a pencil properly? I would of thought it was important to let the child experiment and gain confidence in writing before you make it more difficult by trying to change the way they grip their pencil! Is this right? can anyone advise me on what to tell the parent?  :o

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I'm not an expert. I can only go on my experience with my own children and at a pre-school.

 

Pencil-control with correct grip seems to rely heavily on a child's "pincer grip" ability (i.e. using the forefinger and thumb in opposition). If the child hasn't yet developed in this area, I'd therefore suggest lots of fine-motor play before focussing on pencil grip. For example, manipulating small objects (such as small threading beads), peg-boards that need finger and thumb use, clothes pegs (standard size ones and the miniature ones that are so cheap at IKEA), smaller-scale "small-world" toys, etc. Even getting the child to help with turning pages of the book at storytime could be useful! The more practice the better.

 

Based on what I've come across in the past, chunky pencils, triangular ("Hand-hugger") pencils, as well as pencil grips may be useful. I always remember being told "the second finger is the LAZY ONE - it just sits under the pencil" and I have found this useful in helping children.

 

I'll be interested to see what others suggest.

 

Diane.

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We had a child a few yrs ago who held his pencil between his index finger and the next. Not what you might call a 'correct grip' but he was fine with it. my friend also holds her pen this way. I would wait to see if she can control the pencil however she wants to hold it before making it an issue. :D

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We had a child a few yrs ago who held his pencil between his index finger and the next. Not what you might call a 'correct grip' but he was fine with it. my friend also holds her pen this way. I would wait to see if she can control the pencil however she wants to hold it before making it an issue.  :D

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Rea,

 

I totally agree with that! The index finger/second finger grip can work. In fact, I can write perfectly competently without using my thumb (I just tried it, he, he, using only my index finger and my "lazy finger" - I told my thumb to be even lazier!). However a "fist grip" of a pencil is incompatible with the fine control needed (ultimately) for handwriting, especially at speed (because of the use of more muscle groups), and needs to be discouraged in favour of a finger grip.

 

Diane

 

P.S. Just try writing with different grips and watch your hand/wrist/arm as you do so (finger grips use only the finger muscles, and then other muscles, etc, as the hand moves across the page ; fist grips use the hand, wrist and arm throughout - but not the fingers). Possibly, control could happen with a fist grip, but it does not seem to be effective use of muscles, etc., since it is putting repetetive gross movement into something that could be under fine motor control. RSI from fist grip? I hope not.

Edited by diane
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hi,

i have this alot in my reception class. we do lots of pincer grip work as they lack this and without it the will struggle to hold a pencil correclty.

 

we play games with timers ie how many pegs can you put around a basket in 30 seconds.

 

how many objects can they pcik up in a set time etc

 

we also do alot of work with tweezers ie picking up objects, puting then in the sand tray etc.

 

also lots of threading and weaving activities on small scale ie baskets and big scale, fences.

hope this helps

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Clare, we're clearly going down the same track, although I'm a couple of development steps behind you (your ideas are very useful for further development).

 

"Pathfinder" toys are another fine motor (pincer) development aid. So too are the "3D wire mazes with beads" (do they have a name?). I also like using finger puppets (one on the forefinger, one on the thumb, and get them to be close/kiss each other or nip each other if they are predatory!).

 

Diane

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I do think children need to be shown how to hold a pencil correctly too and encouraged to do so. Bad habits are so hard to break and even children staring school at 4 can find it difficult if they have not be shown. Sometimes lack of skill equates to lack of experience, so lots of exciting mark making activities and opportunities with adult support can help.

 

So many children put their thumbs over the pencil and the other fingers and while they can get by and make recognisable marks this will cause problems later. Personally I am not a fan of pencil grips or triangular pencils as I have seen children continue to hold their pencil incorrectly even with them and I prefer the large hexagonal pencils with soft leads that will glide easily over the paper, similarly white boards and pens seem to help. Often the angle of the pencil in the hand can be corrected to make a traditional grasp easier.

 

I was shown an alternative grip where children can be encouraged to hold pencil between index and middle fingers, using thumb to support in traditional way. Although this looks awkward and I have never used it with a child, it is actually quite comfortable and efficient!

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I agree with correcting a grip, We spend time in nursery encouraging our children to think about sitting properly and holding the pencil efficiently. We have a variety of pencils,pens and grips because I find children's needs are individual.

We find many of our children have poor muscle tone, fine and gross motor development so we have a movement session to help and encourage acitivities like Clare and Diane's.

 

Here are a few more

we use rookie sticks (chop sticks) to eat a variety of foods

finger rhymes

touch thumb to each finger in turn

flicking coins off fingers one at a time

pretend piano playing

arm wrestling

tug of war

encourage children to use easles for drawing and painting

commercial games like hungry hippos, spillikins, ants in your pants.

walking like:-crabs sit hands and feet on floor lift bottom up and walk sideways

- bunny hops

crawling

 

BUT most of all I am trying to persuade senior management that for some children it is too early to start writing. Children's small wrist bones are not fully formed at this stage and some do not have the muscle development to support a good pincer grip. Some also have problems with retained palmar reflexes( the reflex that helps newborns cling tightly to anything put into their hands).

Edited by fay
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I couldn't agree with your last statement more Fay. Parents worry if thier children can't wrote their own names before leaving our setting. Some staff think it is so important that children as young as two know all their colours and can count to ten and are continuing tested them.

Whats happening to learning through play.

 

Sue

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Thankyou everyone for all your suggestions we do do alot of fine motor activities with our nursery children but I have got a few more ideas to try out.

I will continue to encourage good pencil grip and provide a variety of tools to use. I'm finding it difficult to explain all this to the parent as she seems quite worried and seems to want a quick fix. I'm worried the more fuss she makes the bigger the problem will become and I don't want the child to lose her enjoyment and confidence in writing and mark making.

 

I will continue to praise all her efforts and encourage mum to try some of the ideas suggested here at home to develop her muscles and pincer grip.

 

Thankyou once again. :)

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I have a little girl who goes to school after christmas too. She is quite possibly the most skilled 'artist' I have ever had in my 10 years at pre-school. We encourage all children to a pincer grip starting at 2 years old when they come to us. Inspite of this the girl I mention gets totally 'lost' in her child-led art and reverts to palmar grasp and a scissor hold I struggle to describe. She is a quiet little girl who has taken quite some time to come out of herself so I tread very gently when suggesting she needs to hold her pencil or scissors in a better way, making sure its encouraging and non-threatening. She can write her name, her letter formation is fine and overall her skills are highly developed in terms of what she puts on paper.

Given the few weeks left til Christmas do I continue to encourage gently, do I try to be firmer or should I let her do what comes naturally. It would be easy to anticipate the receiving teacher's reaction when she sees how the child manipulates scissors/pens but I am really committed to 'where the child is at' and I think her level of absorbtion is what is holding her back from what she will try in an adult-directed context.

All comments gratefully received!

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Hi all,

My assistant hold her pen between her index and middle finger. My sons friend does aswell.

I personally feel that as long as a child is able to form a pincer grip and use it for threading etc and can form letters with ease, why change it.

We are suppose to be in a society where children have more choice, so if it suits them, why try and change them to conform to the traditional pincer grip.

 

Net x

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I agree that it should be when the child is ready and after lots of work on pincer grip but have found that the following works with most children.

Put the pencil down on the table with the point facing you then pick up between between thumb and forefinger making sure to do this where you would normally hold a pencil i.e not half way up then with the other hand flip the pencil back and hey presto! hope this makes sense is alot easier to show someone!

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I think a pincer grip, albeit traditional, is the one that allows a fluid movement , a relaxed hand and an ability to write at speed and at length comfortably - I can think of many adults I have seen writing in a painfuly laborious style because they hold a pen so awkwardly. However playing devils advocate for a minute, are the children of the future going to have to write for long, extended periods of time?? ICT, wordprocessors and the like will all be the writing tool of choice won't they??

 

A lump of plasticene stuck on a pencil can make a good grip as a child can mould it o fit their fingers.

 

Cx

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