The days of boring old handwriting drills are gone.
In the place of drills teachers give a series of short lessons on how to hold the pencil and correctly write letters and numbers, and then they correct students’ hand-grip and writing direction incidentally as they walk around the room. How your child holds their pencil and form their letters is still taught, but often not as consistently as in the past with the boring old drills, and so many children may not practice the correct grip enough to master it.
This has meant that many children and adults now find handwriting much more difficult and tiring because they are holding their pencil incorrectly and are writing some letters and numbers using the wrong direction. Watch children and young adults as they write, and notice their hand-grip. Many are gripping pens with more than the first finger and thumb. Sometimes they even use their whole fist as a toddler does. As a result their whole hand moves as they write letters instead of just their fingers.
Many also begin to form letters from the bottom up instead of from the top down, and clock-wise instead of anti clockwise. This also slows their writing down, and when they are younger, it makes it more difficult to remember how to form some letters. For example they often confuse the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ because they form those letters in similar ways. The correct way to form the letter ‘b’ is to write the ‘b’ from the top down forming the stem, then up half-way and clockwise around forming the base (down, up, and around), whereas with the ‘d’ you begin half-way between the line and continue anti-clockwise to form the round base, then move up and down (around, up, and down).
Why do we need to help our child hold their pen or pencil correctly?
The pencil grip, or the way they hold a pen or pencil, will either help or hinder them when they write, both now and as adults. With the growth of i-pads and other devices in schools and workplaces, it might seem that being able to skillfully write by hand might become a thing of the past. Perhaps so. I hope not. There is research to show that handwriting facts helps us learn and remember
and will continue to be an important skill even as our children use more technology to communicate.
The correct pencil-grip makes writing easier and faster. When we use the correct pencil grip we can write for longer periods of time smoothly and easily. If your child has difficulty holding the pencil correctly you can usually buy a pencil grip in stationary shops that slides onto the pencil and gives your child a larger surface to grip onto.
Follow these instructions for the correct hand grip:
The hand uses the thumb and 1st finger to hold firmly but not too tightly onto opposite sides of the pencil. Then the 2nd finger bends under the pencil to form a support so that the pen can sit balanced lightly and securely on that finger. This classical grip allows your fingers to move freely when writing instead of the whole hand. Instead, your hand is still and resting lightly on the paper as your fingers move the pencil around to write all or most of a word. Your hand only moves when it slides along between words or parts of words to help the fingers write freely.
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