Monday, September 13, 2010

Handwriting and Pencil Grip Correction

This week is pretty crazy.  We have a birthday to celebrate, a party to plan, and mama has workish-type things to finish.  I'm trying to relax and not stress or add too many things to our already overflowing plates. The last thing I want to fight about is handwriting.

I go back and forth with my thoughts on the subject.  Practice does make perfect in this area, but I also realize she won't be crippled by less than perfect penmanship as an adult.  Legible is the ultimate goal, right?  Still, I go back and forth.  Cursive?  D'Nealian? Correct her pencil grip?  I know there isn't any one right answer, but this is one of those areas that I just don't feel strongly about one way or another.  She expressed an interest in learning cursive, and I do believe everyone should learn to at least read it even if they can't or choose not to write it.  Fine.  We'll do a little cursive.  Then I noticed her struggling a little with it, so I thought maybe D'Nealian would be a good transition font.  Oh, wow.  She went ballistic when she couldn't slant her letters.  Needless to say, we're done with that.  Back to print for a while, then we'll go straight to cursive.

Now, with pencil grip, I get really conflicted.  I had an "incorrect" pencil grip until I had to teach handwriting as an adult.  Then, I figured it was best to get it right if I was going to ask students to do the same.  Since I didn't correct her grip (or even notice it was incorrect back then, if it even was) as a preschooler, she now has several years of this current grip under her belt, and she - like so many kids her age - is resistant to any change in this area.  It feels funny.  I don't like it.  I can't write!  And she doesn't understand why she has to change.  And really, I don't have a good answer for that.  The idea is that it will make her handwriting neater, or make it easier to write, or prevent hand cramping or blisters or pressing too hard or whatever other problems she might develop.  At least that's the idea.

I saw this pencil grip correction tip on Rocks in my Dryer, and it looked promising.  I figured we'd give it a shot.  Instead of a folded tissue, I had her hold a small pom-pon with her extra fingers.  Miraculously, it worked!  She held her pencil the right way immediately, although it was still awkward for her.  I only asked her to do this during copywork.  The rest of her writing she could do any way she wanted.  I didn't want to completely kill her love affair with creative writing.  It worked for a couple of weeks, then the complaining started again.  Then the "Oops, I lost the pom-pon," or the equally sneaky, "I'll do my copywork in my room."

I'm tired of the fight.

Then, just when I needed it, this post from The Homeschool Village appeared in my feed reader.   I was already thinking the same thing, but sometimes I just need a little voice to tell me, "It's ok.  You can ditch that crappy idea if you want to."

Crappy idea, indeed.

I keep thinking about what I'm going to do with our second daughter.  I figured I'd teach her the "proper" grip from the beginning so I wouldn't have this dilemma later on.  Then, one day, I watched her grab a pencil and start scribbling (writing her name, she calls it) on a sheet of paper.  She automatically held the pencil correctly.  I knew this, too.  I remember a year ago remarking how she didn't hold crayons with that fist grip many kids use at first.  She picked it up and instinctively held a crayon like a pencil.

I guess some kids are just wired for that grip, and the rest of us get by with what works for us.  Who are we to decide what's "right" or "wrong" if the kid can write correctly with the grip they're already using?  For me, I've learned my lesson.  Unless I have a good reason for doing something, I don't need to insist upon it just because it's the way other people do it.


I told you I'd have a few more Duh Moments.


  1. My oldest is supposed to learn cursive this year in school, and it's at the top of my list to discuss at conferences tomorrow. He's a lefty, for one, and I want to make sure the teacher has experience teaching cursive to left-handers and if not, she's willing to do (or at least read) some research on the topic. Second, his father AND his father's father print instead of writing cursive, because it just never worked for them. I'm not interested in forcing a kid to write a certain way "just because," especially if it's causing a lot of angst because he's a lefty.

    They're also planning on teaching the kids touch-typing. THAT I'm totally on board with and will be getting a copy of the software for home. Most useful thing I learned in high school, and if I want to write--really write, not just jot down a grocery list--I can't do it longhand. My fingers can only keep up with my brain when I have a keyboard. Longhand is just too darn slow. Even, you know, cursive. :)

  2. Thank you for this post. I was just going through this with my own daughter. I tried teaching the "right" grip in the beginning. She complained it didn't feel right and that it hurt. We even delayed trying to just wasn't worth the stuggles to either of us...I want her to enjoy written communication. This year we just have to work on I was stuggling with letting her use her grip or the "right" grip. I decided that as long as her work is legible, she can use her grip...and you know she has beautiful handwriting and no stuggle...thank you for letting me know I am not alone out there.

  3. Ken only prints, too. In all-caps. But see, that drives me nuts. Why did someone teach him to write capital letters first? Especially when most of the letters a kid encounters are lowercase? Someone wasn't thinking.

    We're starting typing too. So useful.

  4. Thanks for commenting, Sheryl. I had already come to the decision as well, but it always helps to hear others going through the same thing. There are so many things that just aren't worth the struggle. We just have to trust ourselves to let them go.

  5. Both of my boys see an occupational therapist, and she keeps working with them on proper grip. Problem is -- they can get it, and I can't help them when she's not around because I totally don't do it correctly. Somehow, I managed to make it through all of my public schooling on the honor roll, got a bachelors and masters degree, and have lived for 33 years - and I haven't used a proper pencil grip during any of it. ;)

    So, while the OT worries about it, I just nod my head and promise to try to work on it with them.

  6. I'm getting there, too. I think letting this go is part of my own deschooling. :)

  7. I just started cursive with my 7 year old dd too (her choice...not mine!) I immediately realized that she had incorrect grip. I'll work with her a little bit on it (it is affecting her ability to see what she is writing. She nearly has her whole fist wrapped around the pencil!) I honestly thought she had it right (it didn't look incorrect..honest! LOL) We'll see how it goes.

  8. I noticed recently that my daughter can't see her writing either, so now I'm back with the maybe I should correct it dilemma. I hope the cursive goes well. My daughter is now off the cursive bandwagon, because she's a perfectionist and she actually had to work at it. I'll keep trying though, because she wants to, she just gets easily frustrated.


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