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Poor pencil control


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Hi all,

This weekend's dilemma!:

I have 4 children in my class who struggle with holding and controlling a pencil. They don't know how to hold it - they pick a pencil up with different hands, experiment with different ways of holding it - from palmer grasp to digital to a very weak looking modified tripod grip. They also often use the pencil with their wrists and rest of their hand off the paper.

I have done copious amounts of fine motor practise (i.e. not using pencils!) with them, provided different widths and lengths of mark-making tools and all the children do finger gym as well - differentiated for their group. Going into reception, rightly or wrongly, I know these children will be expected to write from the beginning and there is a lot less emphasis on developing their fine motor skills. I have been encouraging them and helping them to hold their pencils properly.

Just wanted some idea of what others would do in this situations. Would you be encouraging the children to try to hold the pencil correctly? I have read an article by on OT (which I may have shared on here) that basically says that you don't need to correct a modified tripod/thumb wrapping etc as long as the children are using the pencil with control and it is causing them no pain. However, how do we know at this stage that that is not going to cause them pain as they are expected to write more further up the school? What do you think?

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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bet they've got rubbish shoulder strength.! Do lots of gross motor skill stuff pulling up on bars, climbing swinging etc etc using hammers, ball control etc forget the pencil control and concentrate on this first ...only MO of course ^_^

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Sadly I have this problem with a little girl in our pre-school too. She is very able, in many many ways, but is also very stubborn and will not change her grip from a very babyish whole hand grasp. Whilst she makes this work for her, she can write many words, she will have to change her ways - knowing the reception class she will be going to!, it's almost as if she does it to get attention - so I have stopped reminding her these days and that's an end to it for me - I have seen her use a pencil with a good grip, so I know she can do it, but I don't know how consistently. I have bought those ABC Does pencil grips but she said it hurt, but again I'm not sure.

 

I do agree with Finleysmaid though, it is their gross motor strength for many that is the problem - we do a lot of commando crawling, they have access to the climbing frame for as long as they want it really, we have ball play sessions, we let them tip and carry water to the outside play area, I also suggest to parents to let them go swimming if they can as I believe this helps.

 

You haven't got long before you let yours move on now - not much time to build up those muscles, but you can make a start - and get parents on board, they have a couple of months to work with the children.

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Thanks for your replies.

These children do participate in activities to strengthen their shoulders - we don't have any climbing equipment for continuous provision (I'm looking for something suitable at the moment) but offer this weekly or more if needed but we do provide other resources to help strength shoulders as well as the finger gym which focuses on larger movements. 2 of the children actually excel in the gross motor PD department - great climbing and moving in general. 1 has other specific problems and the other is very young.

I will continue to help them strength their shoulders, as well as their wrists but my dilemma is still when to correct the pencil grip. As they all will attempt writing and can actually copy letters when they put their minds to it...desperate not to make them feel like they are doing it wrong but want to prepare them a little bit for Reception?

Will try the short pencils, thanks Cait.

Any other thoughts?

Thanks so much

Green Hippo x

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sorry green hippo should have known you had checked that....the problem is you can't MAKE a child develop quicker than they are able

Rubbish answer really! :blink: :blink: :blink: I put it down to report brain!.....now editing all the staff's ....why can't people use spell and grammar check! :angry:

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This is what we have in our guidance to parents:

"Children may adopt an inefficient pencil grip when they are asked to form letters before their fine motor skills have developed sufficiently. They will lock their joints and use any grip that gives them the stability needed to control a pencil. This puts strain on their fingers and in some cases even the wrist, elbow and shoulder. The child tires when writing and possibly becomes unwilling to do it.

A child’s grip will usually improve as their hand movements become more controlled. However, as it is difficult to change pencil grip in older children, it is important to help them to correct it when young."

However, I would consider pre-school to young to correct. I would show them how they will hold a pencil when they are older, so they are aware of what is to come. Or just 'look how I'm holding the pencil, do you want to try?' If they have the strength but got into a habit, they may self-correct.

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Thanks again for your replies. Don't be sorry Finleysmaid - it's all helpful!

I like your explanation, Wildflowers - might pinch that one!

Will have to do what I can for now and hope that they manage ok when they go into Reception.

Green Hippo x

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