Handwriting - Encouraging proper pencil grip, right OR left

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
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Handwriting - Encouraging proper pencil grip, right OR left

Unread post by ruthie5573 »

Rox wrote:I've done some on-line research on correct grip, but I still feel that I need more help in this area. My questions are: How much ( and how) do I need to enforce his correct grip? Are rubber pencil grips ok to place on a regular #3 pencil? What kind of pencil should I have him do his work with this year? I thank-you in advance for replys . (-:

PS----I'm so excited to start our MFW K journey and count this as a "God thing". Blessings to all!!!
I have a 4 yo and I found a great rubber grip at the parent-teacher store...it has helped him a lot.
Mom to 4 year old boy, 2 year old boy, 9 month old girl

Postby ruthie5573 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:40 am

Handwriting without Tears sells some small pencils ( like golf pencils)...it forces them to use the proper grip. Or you could shorten pencils that you already have.
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Unread post by hsmamainva »

My 5 year old has special needs and her occupational therapist is using several things to help her with her fine motor skills and pencil grip.

The *best* thing we've found yet are the small pencils that you can purchase from Handwriting Without Tears. They're small - about the size of golf pencils, if you've ever played golf or putt-putt, but - unlike those pencils - these have erasers on them, so that's a real plus!

But...if you have a child who has a perfectionistic streak, and you don't want them to always be erasing things, then you could just purchase golf pencils -- they have them for sale in the sporting goods department of any store.

We also break our crayons into small pieces -- no more than 1 1/2 inches -- to encourage proper grasp.

My daughter's occupational therapist recommends using those things, vs. large pencils or crayons, as they're easier to manage. The thick crayons and pencils actually discourage proper grip.

I hope this helps a little!
Kelly -- mama to Kate (5), using MFW K

Unread post by cbollin »


I like the pencil grips that have 3 sections on them to place fingers and thumb and work for lefties or righties. We've tried different sizes and styles of grips until one that works on each kid. They each like different stuff.

We liked using the golf size pencils for a while too. As my oldest dd got older and her hands got bigger than mine, it didn't fit her grip as well and caused discomfort. see --just as you get something figured out, it changes :)

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Unread post by RB »

The DrawWriteNow website has some good information on pencil grip. We ordered a few grips from them, and are pleased.
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Unread post by shera »

The thing that worked the best for my ds was one of the primary type pencils. (The fat pencils) He didn't like the golf pencils.

Also generally speaking there are different types of pencil grips, the main thing is there needs to be a space between the thumb and first or index finger. You don't want them tight up against the pencil.

I would caution you though while a good pencil grip is important, you don't want to discourage any love of writing type of thing. I've seen many parents say that they constantly corrected their child's grip on the pencil and now the kids hate writing. So maybe only focus on correct grip for handwriting practice and ignore it for everything else.

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Unread post by RachelT »

My thoughts are very similar to the above post from Kelly! ;)

My 6yr old ds has really benefitted from using small golf sized pencils this year to learn how to hold them properly. Handwriting Without Tears recommends that children begin with a small broken part of chalk or crayon, then these golf sized pencils because they have to pinch the pencil and it is not as heavy in little hands as a longer pencil.

I found a package at an office supply store (Staples) of 100 small pencils and then we just use a large hand sized eraser. After using these for a year, I have seen improvement.

It looks like you're getting some great suggestions from others.

Postby RachelT » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:35 pm

Hi! The HWT (Handwriting Without Tears) sized chalk bits and pencils have been most successful for us. Last year I found golf pencils at an office supply store, but they don't have erasers. This year I broke down and bought the box of HWT pencils WITH erasers! It's been a good thing!

My ds is still working on his handwriting grip and our Occupational Therapist showed me how to have the kids hold the pencil between their first finger and thumb, but let it hang upside down. Then, use their other hand to gently turn it over and it lands right in the web of their hand, where it should be.

Rachel, wife to Doug ~ 1995, mom to J (17) and B (15)
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Unread post by Julie - Staff »

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:01 pm
Author: shera

To fix the crooked hand tilt the paper more. I'm a lefty but I do not hook my wrist (broke them both in 1st grade), I tilt the paper more so I can see what I am writing. I have also read someplace that the hooking of the wrist is genetic and is found in right handed people but is even more rare than in lefties.

As far as the writing have you tried a wipe off board. Maybe if she wrote first on the board and then on the paper she wouldn't throw a fit as much.


Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 5:15 pm
Author: Cyndi (WA)

I also agree with tilting the paper to avoid the arm crook. My dh is a lefty, so I couldn't tell dd it's "wrong" to do that, I just set her chair differently, got a footrest, and tilted the paper. I told her that I wanted her to be extra comfy so she could do her best writing. I also bought an "extra special" clicker eraser just like mommy's eraser that she was not allowed to use. Pow! She started erasing her own errors and fixing them, no questions asked. Maybe if your dd loves a certain cartoon character, or something like that, that would work.

Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:01 am
Author: kugoi

Hmm...I'm left handed but don't curl my hand around, and DS is right handed and he does curl his hand. I've always just let him do it, as it seems to be what's most comfortable to him.

We use a white board for handwriting practice and he definitely prefers it to paper.

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 5:17 pm
Author: TriciaMR

Have them write on a wall or easel - anything upright and high - it is very hard to curl your hand around the pen/pencil when gravity is pull that hand down.
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LEFT handed

Unread post by TriciaMR »

amelasky wrote:He's left handed. (the only one in the family that is!) I have no idea how to teach him to write.
Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:43 pm
My tip would be to mirror image him. I had a friend that wrote left handed and he didn't arch his hand over the top. He said his mom taught him by sitting across from him.

My thought was that perhaps you could give him a dry erase marker and have him stand on one side of the sliding glass door and you on the other and have him copy you (of course, it means you have to write the letters backwards).

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Unread post by gressman9 »

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:14 pm

My ds age 6 is left handed....the only one of seven so far. I was really worried about teaching him too. Amazingly it just happened. Maybe it was just him, but he picked it up just by me showing him with my right hand what he needed to do with his left. Then again....he was holding his crayons the "right way" by age 1 so maybe he's just strange! :)

I like the mirror image idea. Maybe draw the letters on the window with something that can wash off first. Then you both trace it.....that way you aren't trying to figure out how to do them backwards!
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Unread post by Jenneve »

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:06 am

Check out this website. I'm probably going to get a couple things from them for Justin. He gets frustrated very easily, so I'm all for anything I can find to make teaching him easier. lol
http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/ac ... e_mat.html

I like the mirror image idea, too. I may have to try that on a window sometime.

Unread post by cbollin »

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:51 am

When my left handed child (oldest) was only 3, we worked on general fine motor skills and building strength instead of working on crayon/pencil style of writing. Use lacing things. Use play dough and let them roll it out. Let your kid pick up a stick or toothpick and "write" in a salt tray. the others mentioned shaving cream on the mirror

work on prewriting skills (making circles, lines, dots, etc.) before really working on making letters. You're probably going to do that, but I feel the need to say it out loud.

Like the others have said, sitting across instead of next to the child can help too.

Thinking a lot ahead in the game, when you do copywork or Spelling Power (way down the road in many many years.....) One of the little things that helps my leftie for copywork is to have the "source" on the right side of the paper instead of the left side. I guess that makes sense to you. Basically right handed writers like to look at the left column and copy on the right side. Left handed writers like to look on the right column and copy on the left.

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Unread post by lyntley »

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:43 am

A tip from a lefty with both lefties and righties to teach...

Make sure to allow your lefty to slant his paper top to the right and bottom to the left. This helps GREATLY in proper hand position.

You can use a tray of rice, sand, or grain and make the shape with your finger then let DS trace over your letter. It wont be so difficult for you to use your left hand in the tray. The bath tub is also a great place to learn writing letters with finger paint soap or even bath crayons.

You might like to check out the program Cursive First. It has a simple method of introducing letters using a clock face. Showing the starting and stopping point of letters. Like "A" start at the 2 go to 10 all the way around to 2 and straight down. May be more useful as he gets older. But just thought I'd mention it.

You know, I couldn't figure out why my (Righty)DD couldn't tie her shoes. I had shown her all the tricks, she is my extremely bright in every area child, but was 8 and insisting on shoes she wouldn't have to tie. Well, one day my right handed husband decided to show her "his" way and voila! she's been doing it ever since. That was the only time we ever had an issue with the right-left thing since I am lefty. DS (lefty) got it first time.
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Unread post by hsmom »

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:39 pm

You might want to look into Handwriting Without Tears. I like the program for any child, but the good thing for lefties is that there is a model to copy on the right and the left. I'm not sure if that makes sense. What I mean is: Model_______Model________Model_______ That way a lefty does not have to twist the hand to see the model.

My oldest is a lefty, the only one in the family, and it really was not an issue at all. I was concerned about it beforehand, but I worried for nothing. We just followed the ideas in the book for lefties and it worked fine.

Also, we really liked the HWT program. I think her wet - dry - try idea on the slate with chalk is great. Check out the program on her website and see if it appeals to you: http://www.hwtears.com/

Oh, and I didn't really teach him anything until school age, just let him do whatever until 5 or so... except maybe to show him how to hold a pencil.
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Unread post by HSmommi2mine »

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:46 pm

My mom's dear friend was left handed and she helped my brother with holding a pencil correctly and how to eat properly with a fork. Worked like a charm.
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Handwriting position

Unread post by Toni@homezcool4us »

mikesherry wrote:My child that has just started K really loves to write and do school but her handwriting position is very wrong. When we try to do it the correct way, it doesn't seem to work very well. I'm not sure how to retrain her...Any ideas?
A few suggestions that have helped us.
-Grippers can be a big help.
-Also, teach her that her that the curve between her thumb and index finger is a "nest" for her pencil to rest in.
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Unread post by TriciaMR »

Is she wrapping her wrist around? Have her write at a whiteboard or easel - it's too tiring to fight gravity.

Otherwise, use pencil grips.

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Unread post by mikesherry »

I found a really good website with a picture of the correct pencil grip and some grippers to help and they also gave the idea to use an easel.
Thank you!
We will be starting this fall with a 3rd grader, 2nd grader and 4 year old and a 1 year old and a new baby arrival in Jan or Feb.

Handwriting for Lefty

Unread post by cbollin »

kidswife wrote:I don't see any in-depth description of the handwriting cur. in the catalog or website, and want to know if the MFW version has done well for lefties. Thanks!
MFW K or 1st do include handwriting instruction for print.

My oldest is my leftie. Here's our story with learning cursive.

We went with Handwriting without Tears (HWT) in cursive, but some people don't like their style of cursive. After using HWT's books for a while, my oldest then started to practice with the Cursive writing practice books that MFW sells. We took the pages out (they are perforated) and put them in page protectors and use a dry erase marker (low odor) for more practice.

I found an online site those shows how to form the letters. When I used that site then it was easy to use the books that MFW recommends.
handwritingforkids dot com

I've not thought that I'm good at teaching my leftie much of anything in handwriting, or shoe tying or crocheting. Yet, she learned them. Her biggest handwriting issue is that she goes too fast trying to keep up with her brain. (To be fair in that, she has some issues with cluttering and some ADD tendencies and such. So her handwriting issues have nothing really to do with what resources she used.)

The biggest thing that my oldest tells me about writing as a leftie is to have the model that you want copied to be on the right hand side of the page, and let her copy it on the left hand side. And for copy work, she puts the original either at the top of her page or on the right side of the table/desk.

After all of that, I think we could have used anything (including MFW's stuff) for handwriting as long as I learned to adapt for a left handed student in terms of where to put the books and to avoid as much as possible using spiral bound notebooks. She hates having her arm on the spiral. Part of me wants to let her hold the notebook "upside down" to avoid that, but she looks at me like I'm crazy.

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Unread post by lyntley »

We used "Cursive First". My lefty picked it up quicker and writes nicer than his older righty sister. Make sure to allow lefties to turn the paper top to the right bottom left to allow a nice letter slant and less curling of the writing hand.
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Unread post by HSmommi2mine »

I highly suggest Handwriting without Tears for Lefties. The books are specifically set up with examples on both ends of the lines so Lefties can see what they should be doing and there are instructions for how to teach a Lefty to write properly.

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Handwriting question?

Unread post by 8shininglights »

Amy C. wrote:I noticed today that both my older sons have an incorrect pencil grip. I started out by teaching them the correct grip, but apparently as they have progressed in their writing they have both adjusted to what "feels comfortable" for them, and I have not noticed until today. :~

The problem is that my oldest son, in particular, really dislikes to write. He complains of his hand and arm hurting and cramping after a fairly short time of writing. My second son complains a little about hand cramping but not as much as his brother.

I showed my oldest son the correct way today, and he tried, but his writing was weak and he got frustrated with it. My other son said he wasn't having any problems writing that way. I want to work with both of them, but especially the one that is having so much trouble with writing. Is there anything I can do other than just have him keep practicing his writing with the correct grip? My oldest son is 10. My younger son is 8 - almost 9.

Amy C.

This is just my experience....and I have had a problem with all of my children holding their pencil incorrectly at the start!!! I never picked up on it with my oldest until she was 6 to 7(she held her pencil in four fingers instead of three....in other words, the pencil rested on her ring finger instead of the middle finger). The habit was there, and I found I could not break it. It made me aware of it for the rest of my kids who all tried to hold it resting on their fourth finger, but I caught it as we were learning. I found that I had to remedy this at the start, or....I hate to say it....but I found it was too late. Once they are comfortable with something, and IF they have been doing it for a long time, it is hard to break. I do believe that it causes hand cramps too. My oldest has very nice handwriting (she is almost 18 and still holds it on her fourth finger because I did not catch it in time), but she has a hard time writing several pages without a cramp and being consistent. I actually just realised that my daughter who is 12 has started wrapping her thumb around the top of the pencil (where the knuckle is resting on top of the pencil)....I have tried breaking that too. I am still not sure if I kept on her constantly if I can change that or not. But again, I do agree........it will cause hand cramps and difficulties later on. I find that it is hard from them to keep consistent handwriting going....they press too hard causing cramps and they lose the flow (especially if it is cursive).

I know I am not helping you........I guess I am just sharing my experience! For your 10 year old, it could be a lot harder to change DEPENDING on how long he has been doing it.....and exactly what he is doing.

Lisa........but not very helpful Lisa! :(
Wife to my BEST Friend, Roger, for 22 years!
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Re: Handwriting question?

Unread post by cbollin »

We use shaped pencil grips with our older kids. all of my kids are totally messed up in some way or other. so we got these shaped pencil grips that were left and right handed use. and told you where to put your thumb and fingers. It gave them the right place to put their fingers. triangle shapes ones... not just cylinder types.

well, ok. been working hard with occupational therapists for 3-4 years with my youngest. I'm a failure. every time she picks up a writing instrument we have to remind her what to do. I'm a failure. why am I answering....

but for my oldest who is a leftie,... she likes those things. there were in the regular school supply stuff. and were designed for tripod grasp.

we used the ones this company calls "stetro" but bought them in a grocery store aisle in school supply. or you can see fancy ones online.

we didn't get that kind... it was the kind called The Pencil Grip. but there are some things on that site that are designed for older student to correct improper grasp. maybe something like that would help?

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Re: Handwriting question?

Unread post by 8shininglights »


I am in Australia, so I am not sure what is available now in the States........but for my child who is in K, he just could not break from holding it on his fourth finger. I had to have the triangles. But.......I just found something else here that is even better..........I am not sure if I can describe them. They are more round and probably only 3/4 of an inch long. They have round indentations for where your fingers are supposed to rest. So, where the thumb is underneath, it is a larger place. There is even an arrow pointing the right direction. This has worked better for him as he is learning. I actually have not thought about trying this with my older kids to see if they could break a habit. I guess it is worth a try with my 12 year old.
Amy C. wrote:I just saw the problem today, and I felt like a failure. I mean, here he is 10 years old, and I am just noticing this. That is what I get for using a curriculum that encouraged independent work all these years. I relied too much on that "independent" work, I guess. He has always complained of too much writing and that it hurt his hand. I just thought he did not want to write or that it really was too much writing (which it probably was with all the writing work he did in a day). Poor thing, he really was having a physical writing problem, and I just did not notice! I just kept making him "do his work". Boy, do I feel really bad!
I also have been using an independent program (we are just starting MFW next month! YEAH!!!........what a switch for us!!!!!! ALL of my kids can't wait...we will be doing ECC with two of them and AHL with two. My son who is starting grade 1 will join in ECC where he can. I am sure that does contribute to "not noticing" these errors. I also felt guilty when I noticed my 12 year old..... "How did that happen without me seeing??!?!??" Think how much you would not know if they were not home???? I guess we need to remind ourselves of that. We are not perfect, but we learn from these experiences. It reminds us that the little details are important. I guess.....just now........I have tried to look at this from a different perspective..... what is God teaching me from this? I don't want to just sit here and feel guilty (HE is not honoured in that!). I want to look at the details and even remind my kids that God was concerned with ALL the details in creation, so when we create things, we need to make sure that we are remembering the details too. We can also use this "new" training time with our kids as another way to bond and help them (hopefully with patience!!! :) ). Well....I think I am rambling and really not making sense. It is late morning here, so time to go for a walk!!!

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Re: Handwriting question?

Unread post by sarajoy »

Hi all,

Just chiming in to say I have found those pencil grippers with the indents for the fingers here in the states at a local teachers store. I should really take a look at my kiddos grips tomorrow. It is something I have probably been lax in.

Also doing ECC and 1st.

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Re: Handwriting question?

Unread post by alisoncooks »

Hi. You may have already seen these, but I thought I'd throw it out there for you.
Here's a tip on how to train proper pencil holding using a tissue...
http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/shann ... me-te.html

And here is a site that I've been looking at lately...
Married to DH since 2000, with 2 sweet girls (2006 & 2008).
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