Literacy and Pencil Grip

All Primary/ECE teachers need to know what I’ll be sharing here. And with regard to movement, please read to the end, where I promise you’ll find an important connection with my usual focus on music and movement. 

I was fortunate recently to attend three amazing workshops focusing on literacy and child development at the “For the Love of Literacy Conference” in Burlington, Ontario. The one I want to talk about right now was called, “Are They Ready to Write,” presented by two Occupational Therapists: Jennifer Ansley and Karen Patterson. It was great for so many Primary teachers and ECE educators to hear the message that letter formation is important and that we MUST teach the proper way to hold a pencil and crayons.
Back in November I addressed this issue in my own classroom blog, because I feel very passionate about the topic. Here is what I posted at that time:
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Correct Pencil Grip is Important!

When learning letter formation it is very important that a child holds their pencil in the correct way. The pencil should be held in the "tripod" grip between the thumb and the first two fingers. If a child's hold starts incorrectly, it is very difficult to correct later on. 

What type of grip does your child have? We do a lot of fine motor activities to help build the strength in the fingers and the muscle between the thumb and first finger. 

We are using the triangular grip, close to the writing tip, to practice and reinforce the proper grip. 

To learn the best way to hold crayons and pencils, hold a bead or small squish toy under the 3 fingers, then grip the pencil with thumb and first finger. The thicker the pencil or crayon, the easier it is to hold. 

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When I taught grade 6, I discovered that ALL my students who had reading challenges formed their letters from the bottom up. Ever since I’ve taught Primary, I’ve made sure to teach proper letter formation before the child learns bad habits. While some teachers have scoffed at this, I STRONGLY believe we have to develop the “pincer grasp.”Macintosh HD:Users:liztwomey:Desktop:w-sitting-position.jpg

I’m also in the process of putting together a video showing children who sit in a “w” position. They sit in this position because they do not have enough core strength to keep themselves up. Often it’s an indicator that the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) is not integrated. This can have huge implications towards learning. Stay tuned for a video clip in my next blog, hopefully this week, showing movements that will help integrate this reflex for the child.

Until then my friends, have a great week!
Liz Jones-Twomey

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