We have put together some quick step by step Easter drawing ideas for you to try, using basic shapes such as circles, rectangles and triangles. It is amazing how, by using these simple shapes, you and your child can create fantastic Spring/Easter: cards, pictures mobiles or bunting: http://bit.ly/2kyeo3w
Drawing pictures is a great way to help your child develop their pre-handwriting strokes and shape forming skills. As well as supporting shape, colour, pattern and language development.
There have been many articles over the last few years reporting the fact that children are struggling to hold pencils correctly for handwriting and drawing. The reasoning for this is more often than not based on our children’s use of technology and the effect this has on their hand strength and finger dexterity (Fine Motor Skills).
Poor fine motor skills and hand strength not only affects a child’s ability to learn and develop a good handwriting style it can make other grip patterns difficult to master as well. Power, precision, stability or a combination of all three are needed by children to compete everyday tasks such as dressing, picking up and carrying objects (especially small items), using a knife & fork, other tools and scissor skills.
To assess your child’s hand, finger strength and dexterity check out our assessment page: http://bit.ly/2C7xYwq
To improve their overall hand and finger strength check out our hand and finger strength and dexterity games: http://bit.ly/2FhFkR7
Learning to hold a pencil in an appropriate grip is not the only grip style your child needs to develop, especially once they have started school. They will need to develop those which enable them to effectively use scissors as well as a knife and fork. If your child struggles with these activities it may be that they need to be taught how to form the grips correctly (as bad habits develop quickly and are difficult to change) or develop the appropriate hand and finger skills.
How to Hold Scissors
The tip of the thumb is in the top hole of the scissor handle while the tip of the middle finger is in the bottom hole. The index finger is on the bottom edge of the lower handle supporting and stabilising the scissors. The ring and little finger are curled into the palm (except if you are using large scissors as then they will fit in the bottom hole of the handle with the middle finger, to help create the cutting action).
The non-cutting hand should support the paper or item being cut; the thumb is on top of the paper and the fingers underneath, steadying and moving the paper.
How to Hold a Knife & Fork
The handle of the knife or fork lies diagonally across the top section of the palm. The ring and little finger wrap around the handle, the thumb sits on the side of the handle, while the index finger sits flat and straight on the back of the handle. The middle finger curls slightly around the handle so that when the wrist twists round, so that the knife blade edge or prongs of the fork are facing down towards the plate, the handle rests on the top middle finger joint area.
We often talk about the most appropriate grip for handwriting being the tripod grip; but this usually only refers to finger position. It is easy to forget the importance of the actual hand position in relation to the pen and paper for handwriting.
The ideal position is for the hand, wrist and elbow to be below the tip of the pencil and under the writing line for both left and right-handed writers.
Some children will hold the pencil in a tripod grip but develop a hooked hand position or move the elbow too far up the table, causing the forearm and wrist to be nearly horizontal with the table edge, because they feel they can see what they are writing more clearly.
A hooked grip puts unnecessary strain on the hand ligaments and forces the body into a poor sitting position, again putting extra strain on the body. This in turn makes handwriting a tiring and uncomfortable task, impacting on a child’s overall learning experience.
It takes time to correct a poor hand position but it is well worth the perseverance as it will enable a child to write freely and more comfortably.
When writing normally, encourage children to angle the paper appropriately as this will also help to correct a poor hand position. With the correct paper tilt they will always be able to see what they are writing. If the paper is tilted at the correct angle for them, they will find a hooked hand position, or having their forearm further up the table, more difficult and uncomfortable to maintain.
Some children will find writing on a sloped desk helpful. Not all are comfortable writing or drawing on a flat surface and may benefit from the paper being positioned on an angled or sloped board. If you are not sure, instead of buying a specialist board, you could make one. Try using a ring binder or lever arch file stuffed with magazines and newspaper to make a sloped board. Tape the edges to stop the papers falling out or you could cover it in sticky back plastic to give a smoother finish to the board. The advantage of this is that you can make them to any angle of slope. Try a few to see which, if any, your child prefers. You may find that they only need the sloped board for a short while. It may also help to reduce the angle of the slope over time so that they gradually get used to moving from a sloped to horizontal writing plane.
The Adaptive Tripod pencil grip is identical to the Dynamic Tripod grip (still considered the most appropriate for handwriting) in that the pencil is held between the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests on the middle finger. The main difference is that the shaft of the pencil rests in the ‘V between the index and middle finger. This gives an open web space which allows the fingers to move freely so that a fluid handwriting style can be achieved.
This grip is often more appropriate for children who have low muscle tone or hyper mobility of the finger joints. It can also benefit older children who:
Continue to hold a pencil too tightly
Hold the pencil lightly using just their fingertips (often writing using whole arm movements)
Hold a pencil with their thumb wrapped around and across the pencil and index finger.
Changing to the Adaptive Tripod grip is not a quick fix for children who have poor hand and finger strength. These strengths still need to be developed to make handwriting more comfortable.
How to form the Adaptive Tripod Grip for Right & Left-handed Writers
From the research I have done I cannot find any information that the grip needs to be adapted for left-handed writers. So, our step by step guide applies to both left and right-handed writers and can be accessed using the following link and scrolling down the page: http://bit.ly/2XpuI8I
Last week we explained, that this grip is classified as an efficient grip for handwriting.
This grip may not put as much stress on the finger joints as other inefficient grips but it does restrict finger movements and therefore the fluidity of the handwriting.
The Quadrupod Grip is where the pencil is held between the top of the thumb, index and middle fingers and rests on the ring finger with the little finger slightly curled in.
I would normally see this as a developmental transitional pencil grip in younger children as they then move on to develop a Dynamic Tripod Grip, considered the most appropriate grip for handwriting.
Older children who have not moved on to develop the tripod grip may require more focused support in developing gross and/or fine motor skills. It is important to check that they are sitting correctly at the table and that the paper is positioned and tilted correctly for them. If they have a poor sitting posture it may be that extra work needs to be done on helping them to develop their gross motor skills. If this area seems fine then it could be that their fine motor skills require additional attention. See our ‘Key strengths needed for handwriting’ section for more information: https://www.teachhandwriting.co.uk/handwriting-key-strengths.html
It can be very difficult to get an older child to change their pencil grip especially if the old grip, like the Quadrupod Grip, is very similar to the new Dynamic Tripod Grip. This is when it becomes difficult to know whether to continue to try and make a child change their pencil grip or not.
I think what we have to remember is:
“A pencil hold that provides speed, legibility is comfortable and will not cause harm to the joints of the hand over time. If a hold satisfies these criteria there is no need to change it”
(Benrow 2002, cited A Wagenteld, J Kaldenberg (co-editors), 2005: Foundation of Paediatric Practice for the Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pub: Slack Incorporated, ISBN-10:1-55642-629-1)
So if the child is complaining that their hand or fingers hurt or ache when they use the Quadrupod Grip, or that it is hindering their handwriting fluidity and speed, then we do need to support them in changing their grip. For some it may be more appropriate to introduce them to the Adaptive Tripod Grip rather than trying to force them to use the Dynamic Tripod Grip.
We have to remember that every child is different and try our best to cater to their needs rather than our own preferences.