Do you cringe when you see your child hold their pencil?
Is your child complaining of their hand hurting or feeling tired when writing?
The way a child holds their pencil can give us clues as to their development as well as their potential written output (aka a poor grasp usually equals messy writing).
1. Build up their core!
Having strong tummy, back, and shoulder muscles will lead to stability, which is essential for having a coordinated grasp. Playing outside, climbing trees, hanging from monkey bars, doing animal walks like the crab or bear walk, or any weight-bearing activities (where the child is crawling or climbing) will strengthen their core and therefore improve their grasp.
2. Strengthen their hands!
Similar to the core, the muscles in the hands need to be strong as well. There are tiny muscles in the hand and fingers that are recruited when holding a pencil and producing those small movements to write letters. But when those muscles are weak, we use bigger muscles making the task "easier." Which leads to awkward grasps and inefficient, and often messy, writing. Make those hands stronger by encouraging play with playdough, clay, or other resistive materials, tearing pieces of paper, play with toys that require pulling and snapping (legos, squigz, etc).
3. Use shortened tools to write with!
Using broken crayons, small chalk pieces, rock crayons, or other writing tools that are short and small will encourage the child to use just their fingers (rather than their whole hand or their awkward grasp). Plus it's fun because kids think you're BONKERS to write with such silly tools. WIN-WIN
4. Build up their coordination!
Often our kids simply don't get enough practice using their hands these days. Because we are on screens more often or engaging in passive ways, kids are not refining their motor skills. Incorporating fine motor play is a great way to improve their pencil grasp. Think sewing, stringing beads, adapting board games by using chopsticks or tongs, bracelet making, Legos, and so much more!
5. Good old fashioned practice with a correct grasp while doing something fun!
Sometimes adaptive pencil grips can be great for creating muscle memory by doing the correct motion over and over. BUT let's make it fun by practicing that grasp in a low-stress activity like a fun coloring book or maze or pictionary game.
Want more ideas?!
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