Handwriting Help for Floating Hands

Handwriting Help for Floating Hands

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just recently, I received an email from an occupational therapist that I’ve been working with for quite some time.  She had a question concerning an issue that is very familiar to me.  She wrote:

I have a couple of students whose hands “float” off the tabletop (ulnar side of hand is not in contact with tabletop).  They tend to write with shoulder/elbow movements.  If I make them keep their hand on table, they then use wrist rather that finger excursion movements.

What do you recommend to help correct this?? More wrist work??  Finger mobility excursion work??

I though I’d share our conversation and the ideas that I have found to work in this situation.

 

Planning is Important!

 

Our time with students is precious and there’s always so much to do.  I’ve found that a schedule of activities helps me to keep on task and accomplish the goals that we’ve set for that session.  Also, a written or visual schedule helps the student follow and understand what his or her work will be for that day.  In the case of “floating hands,” I typically follow a strict schedule of tasks that will help both me and the student recognize progress and to uncover continued needs.

 

 

  1. Begin the session with gross motor work.    Although the students are using their shoulders to manipulate the pencil and negotiate the task, that doesn’t mean that they have strong upper body and/or core strength.  In fact, it could mean the opposite.  It takes strong muscles in those areas to maintain the arm and wrist positioning needed for a fluid and legible handwriting style.  Writers who use their shoulders and elbows in this way often benefit from lots of upper body and core strengthening activities.  I’d suggest starting each session with 10-15 minutes of upper body workouts: wheelbarrow races; wall pushups; yoga exercises such as the the plank and the warrior; and floor pushups if they are strong enough.  I even work on arm wrestling at the table.  Of course, be careful – lots of these students can take you down on that one!

 

Yoga Exercises

 

 

 

  1. In the same session, I’d move on to vertical activities.  These can be completed on papers taped to the wall or white board (but not completed with marker on the whiteboard, please*), a window pane, or an easel.   The activities I provide include drawing, doodling, word search, crossword puzzles, coloring, tracing, or any type of activity that places the wrist in the slightly extended position that is preferable for handwriting at the desk.  I usually take my students through another 10-15 minutes of this, making sure that I explain why the wrist needs to be placed just so and why it is important not to lean on the forearm to steady oneself or to rest against the wall.  The arm and hand need to move fluidly as they do while producing handwritten work at the desk.  During this segment of the session, I will provide the students with a break periodically to give the upper extremity a rest.  For example, after each 5-minute span, I offer a break that might include playing an ongoing game such as Operation, blowing a cotton ball across the table or floor at a target, putty exercises, or any board game that interests the student.  The type of break offered would reflect the student’s needs at that time, taking into consideration whether a fine-motor, vision, or simple “fun” activity would best suit his or her needs.

 

An important note:   During the vertical activities, the students should have their wrists and forearms in light contact with the wall and paper, allowing them to glide across the paper with a fluid movement as they perform the task. (Be sure to attend to the non-dominant hand, as well, ensuring that it is placed appropriately on the wall and paper.)  To help with the correct positioning, I may add a very light weighted wrist band on each wrist, draw a highlighted line where their wrist should maintain contact, and/or place light pressure on their wrists with my index finger to guide and remind them.  It takes time – lots sometimes – so be patient.

*And it is also important to avoid using markers or pens for these initial stages.  Pencils provide important tactile feedback that gives the student an increased awareness of his or her hand placement using the appropriate writing tool, of a sense of pressure on the pencil, and a feel for the movement of the hand.

 

 

Graph Drawings (You can find more resources in the Needs and Strategies Tool Box included with my book.)
Wikki Stix Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cotton Ball Game helps build efficient visual skills.
Doodles and Drawings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Next, I’d move on to a fine-motor activity.   Exercises that include wrist work and finger mobility are excellent choices.    But,  before I asked the student to do too much fine-motor work, I would take into consideration the level of finger and hand fatigue the student is experiencing after the vertical surface work that has been done.  If they are very fatigued, I’d alternate the sequence of the vertical work
    Fine Motor Activities From Dollar Tree

    and the fine-motor in different sessions.  For example, on Monday I’d do the fine-motor first, then go on to the vertical.  Then on Wednesday, I’d begin with vertical and then move on to fine-motor, increasing the amount gradually relative to the fatigue levels.  The reason I do this is because it makes it easier for me to assess the fine motor before and after using those muscles in the vertical position.  Then, when the fine-motor is improving, then I might keep that portion for after the vertical.  It sounds like that is contrary to the way we typically conduct a session, and it is.  But in the case of floaters, we are mostly working on keeping the wrist and forearm in the appropriate positions.  So, I alternate the order for the tasks to keep me informed about those particular needs.  Sometimes, the student doesn’t really need much fine-motor strengthening.  If he or she is not gripping the pencil too tightly or loosely, then the floating may simply be a case of upper body and core strength.

Putty exercises on a slightly vertical surface to enhance awareness of the appropriate wrist positioning. (Picture is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.)

 

  1. At the end of the session, I would transfer the vertical task requirements to desk work, explaining that the same wrist positioning and movement applies to handwritten work performed at the desk.  At first, it is best not to work on handwriting in this portion of the session.  Bring down the drawings, doodling, or coloring activities that the student was working on and have him or her practice on those.  This eliminates the need for the student to monitor his or her handwriting quality.  As the student progresses with the vertical activities, then handwriting can be introduced here in the final stages of the session.

 

Now, I would most definitely check sensory skills.  Sometimes students simply don’t like the feeling of having the side of their hand moving across the paper. In that case (which I’ve only come across rarely in children without other sensory needs), I begin their work on the vertical surface by adding a piece of felt or soft cloth layered on the bottom portion of the paper.   This provides a “gentler” surface that allows them to move their hands over that portion of the paper.  I gradually remove the amount of time this strategy is included in the task.  If they don’t like smooth surfaces, then I would put a fabric such as a softer burlap there that will provide some texture and scratchiness to the surface.

 

 

These are my tried and true suggestions.  But, I’m sure that you have your own strategies that have worked for you and your students.  Please share them with us so that we can all learn from your experiences.

 

 

 

 

The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures above are the property of the author and their just must provide a link back to this article or her website.

Pictures that are the property of the photographers at Pixabay and their use should include the link provided with the photo to give proper credit to their owners.

Use of the bubble wand picture should include a link back to the blog author.

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

 

Another Look at Pencil Grip

Pencil grip Pencil grip is the first visible sign of handwriting difficulties that can cause teachers and parents to ask for the assistance of an occupational therapist.  But, as important as an efficient pencil grip is to handwriting skills, it is not always the cause of handwriting needs. Research studies have concluded that an efficient pencil may not always look like one – although it is functional, nonetheless.  My article, “Should we worry about pencil grip?” shares important research conclusions and their implications for an occupational therapy assessment and remediation plan for handwriting development skills. Please share your feedback!

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists,  she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
Pictures are the property of the author and their use must provide a link back to this article or her website.

Should we worry about pencil grip?

“Should we worry about pencil grip?”

by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L

balanced-literacy1Handwriting mastery has been determined to be a leading factor in literacy.  Research has proven that early handwriting instruction, if done right, improves students’ handwriting and that poor handwriting skills place the earliest constraints on writing development. (1)  Writing* instruction, and its favorable effect on improving reading fluency, has been given the rating of “strong confidence” among research experts. (2)  This is significant in the light that reading skills lie “at the heart of education,” with learning to read and write providing the foundation for both academic and economic success. (3)  Such as that is, handwriting mastery continues to remain a skill that 10%-34% of school-age children continue to fail to achieve, (4, qtd. in 5) with handwriting problems being prevalent in up to 25% of typically developing children. (6) That may explain why results from a survey of 167 occupational therapists revealed that 98% reported problems with handwriting to be the most common reasons for referrals from teachers. (7, 8)

Handwriting is a complex skill that involves sensory, perceptual, motor, cognitive, and language functions and encompasses many layers of prerequisite skills.  These include the ability to

  • balance without use of the hands,
  • grasp and release an object voluntarily,
  • use of the hands in a led-and-assist fashion,
  • interact with the environment in the stage of constructive play,
  • hold utensils and writing tools and to form basic strokes smoothly, and
  • perceive letter and orientation to printed language. (9)

It is the role of the occupational therapist to evaluate these underlying skill areas to determine the student’s strengths and weaknesses and to develop a remedial treatment plan to address those needs that are preventing him from achieving handwriting mastery.  Among the ergonomic mechanisms that affect the production of handwriting are body positioning, pencil positioning, pencil grip positioning, and pencil grip type. (10)  Each of these factors has been considered to be a significant factor in determining handwriting mastery and, hence, an assessment of each has been included in the traditional occupational therapy evaluation of handwriting development skills.  Pencil grip efficiency has been the long-established benchmark for “good handwriting,” with the dynamic tripod grasp encouraged by teachers and occupational therapists.  Therefore, when a student fails to achieve Abby for Website 2013-10-23that level of mastery, his pencil grip is the first factor that gains attention and at times claims the lion’s share of time, energy, and resources.  If he is not using the “optimal” pencil grasp, then changes are implemented.  Pencil grip adaptations can be easily and inexpensively obtained and sent into the classroom or to home as quick remedies for illegible and incorrect handwritten work.  And hours of extra practice with a grip or a “better pencil grasp” are often prescribed as a plan to fix handwriting problems.  But, is the pencil grip the most advantageous aspect to review when a student presents with a poor handwriting style?  Should that be the first place to start when he is referred to us for services or the teacher asks us to suggest classroom adaptations?  Does pencil grasp, or the dynamic tripod grasp in particular, have a major impact on handwriting mastery?

Not according to the research.  In fact, research suggests that 50% – 70% of children in a given sample use the dynamic tripod grasp (11), with more than half of second grade children surveyed using the dynamic quadrupod grasp.  (12, qtd in 13).   The results of a study conducted with 4th grade students determined that there were four mature handwriting grasps that were equally functional for children of that age:

  • Dynamic Tripod
  • Dynamic Quadrupod
  • Lateral Tripod
  • Lateral Quadrupod. (14)

Most importantly, the researchers also found that “no relationship was found between grasp and handwriting legibility or sped when children used of the mature grasp patterns” (Collmer, p. 29) below:

Grasp Patterns for Functional Writing. Adapted from “Effect of pencil grasp on the speed and legibility of handwriting after a 10-minute copy task in Grade 4 children,” by H. Schwellnus et al. (2012). Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 59(3), 180-187. (PHOTO PROPERTY OF COLLMER, K., REF. 18)

In another study conducted to discover the “Effect of Pencil Grasp on the Speed and Legibility of Handwriting in Children,” (15) it was found that although the fourth-grade participants utilized the dynamic tripod and lateral quadruped grasping patterns equally, they also displayed the use of the other two mature grasps identified in the study above.  In addition, this study found that 20% of the participants switched grasp patterns during the writing, with an equal percentage switching between the dynamic and lateral tripod and between the dynamic and lateral quadrupod.  Analysis of the results indicted that grasping patterns did not have an effect on legibility or speed.  This study used a 2-minute writing task for assessment.  The authors of the study indicated that alternating between two grasping patterns with the thumb position switching from opposition to adduction across the top of the pencil may indicate the need to cope with pain or discomfort during a longer-writing task.  This would presume to result in a slower writing speed accompanied with periods of rest.  However, in an additional study of fourth graders who participated in a 10-minute writing task, it was found that while the quality of the legibility of the handwriting decreased after the copy task, the speed of writing actually increased.  After analyzing the results, the researchers concluded that there was no difference in the quality or speed scores among the different pencil grasps before and after the task and questioned the practice of having students adopt the dynamic tripod grasp. (13)

Photo is property of Handwriting With Katherine.

Although 40% of teachers surveyed identified “uncorrect” pencil grasp as a common handwriting difficulty” (16 qtd in 13), researchers found that pencil grasp played a significantly less role then is perceived in a child’s ability to master handwritten tasks.  Instead, it was revealed that body positioning, pencil positioning, and consistency of pencil grip presented a significantly higher correlation with the measure of handwriting efficiency – legibility and speed. (10)  The implication of the findings of these studies for pediatric occupational therapy is that we must look beyond the seemingly obvious and traditionally accepted cause for handwriting problems.  Handwriting development skills can lie deeper than pencil grasp and their needs can be uncovered only with an assessment that targets them.

* Handwriting vs Writing:  Handwriting  is the process through which the writer uses his hand to produce letters, words, and sentences on the page in order to create, whereas writing is the skill  that “enables him to express his knowledge and thoughts.”  (Clark, Gloria Jean, “The relationship between handwriting, reading, fine motor and visual-motor skills in kindergarteners” (2010).  Graduate Thesis and Dissertations. Paper 11399. p. 1)
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

  Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
Photos are the property of Handwriting With Katherine and are not to be used in any fashion except as links to the appropriate blog or the Handwriting With Katherine website without the expressed, written permission of Katherine Collmer.  Photos that include links to an outside site are the property of those sites and should not be used in any fashion excepts when they include links to those sites.

References:

  1. Graham, Steve. “Want to Improve Children’s Writing? Don’t Neglect Their Handwriting.” American Educator Winter.2009-2010 (n.d.): 20-25. Web. 26 June 2015.
  2. Graham, Steve, and Michael Hebert. “Writing to Read: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Writing and Writing Instruction on Reading.” Harvard Educational Review 81.4 (2011): 710-44. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
  3. Gentry, J. Richard, Ph.D., and Steve Graham, Ed.D. Creating Better Readers and Writers: The Importance of Direct, Systematic Spelling and Handwriting Instruction in Improving Academic Performance. Saperstein Associates. Saperstein Associates, 2010. Web. 24 June 2015. <http://www.sapersteinassociates.com/downloads/Color%20National%20Whitepaper%20Executive%20Summary.pdf>.
  4. Smits-Engelsman, B.c.m., A.s. Niemeijer, and G.p. Van Galen. “Fine Motor Deficiencies in Children Diagnosed as DCD Based on Poor Grapho-motor Ability.” Human Movement Science 20.1-2 (2001): 161-82. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
  5. Schwellnus, Heidi, PhD, Heather Carnahan, PhD, Azadeh Kushki, PhD, Helene Polatajko, PhD, Cheryl Missiuna, PhD, and Tom Chau, PhD. “Effect of Pencil Grasp on the Speed and Legibility of Handwriting in Children.” The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 66.6 (2012): 718-26. Web. 11 July 2015.
  6. vanderMerwe, Joanne, BScOT, M OT, Neeltje Smit, B OT, B Hons OT, MBA, and Betsie Vlok, M OT. “A Survey to Investigate How South African Occupational Therapists in Private Practice Are Assessing and Treating Poor Handwriting in Foundation Phase Learners: Part I Demographics and Assessment Practices.” South African Journal of Occupational Therapy December 41.3 (2011): 3-11. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy. Web. 7 Oct. 2015. <http://www.sajot.co.za>.
  7.  Case-Smith, J., (2002). Effectiveness of school-based occupational therapy intervention on handwriting. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56, 17-25.
  8. Hammerschmidt, S. L., and P. Sudsawad. “Teachers’ Survey on Problems With Handwriting: Referral, Evaluation, and Outcomes.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 58.2 (2004): 185-92. Web. 15 Aug. 2015.
  9. Chu, S. “Occupational Therapy for Children with Handwriting Difficulties: A Framework for Evaluation and Treatment.” The British Journal of Occupational Therapy 60.12 (1997): 514-20. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.
  10. Rosenblum, S., S. Goldstand, and S. Parush. “Relationships Among Biomechanical Ergonomic Factors, Handwriting Product Quality, Handwriting Efficiency, and Computerized Handwriting Process Measures in Children With and Without Handwriting Difficulties.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 60.1 (2006): 28-39. Web.
  11. Zivani, Jenny, and Margaret Wallen. “The Development of Graphomotor Skills.” Hand Function in the Child: Foundations for Remediation. 2006 ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier, 2006. 217-36. Print.
  12. Benbow, M. (1987). Sensory and motor measurements of dynamic tripod skill. Unpublished Thesis, Boston University.
  13. Schwellnus, Heidi D. “Pencil Grasp Pattern: How Critical Is It to Functional Handwriting?” Thesis. University of Toronto, 2012. Print.
  14. Koziatek, S. M., and N. J. Powell. “Pencil Grips, Legibility, and Speed of Fourth-Graders’ Writing in Cursive.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 57.3 (2003): 284-88. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
  15. Schwellnus, Heidi, PhD, Heather Carnahan, PhD, Azadeh Kushki, PhD, Helene Polatajko, PhD, Cheryl Missiuna, PhD, and Tom Chau, PhD. “Effect of Pencil Grasp on the Speed and Legibility of Handwriting in Children.” The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 66.6 (2012): 718-26. Web. 11 July 2015.
  16. Graham, S., Harris, K. R., Mason, L., Fink-Chorzempa, B., Moran, S., & Saddler, B. (2008). How do primary grade teachers teach handwriting? A national survey. Reading and Writing, 21(1), 49-69.
  17. Sudsawad, P., C. A. Trombly, A. Henderson, and L. Tickle-Degnen. “The Relationship Between the Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting and Teachers’ Perceptions of Handwriting Legibility.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 55.5 (2001): 518-23. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
  18. Collmer, K.  Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation:  A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists.  2016 ed. Waymart, PA:  Universal Publishing, 2016. Print.

Posture, Paper Placement, & Pencil Grip: 3 Links to Handwriting Success

Seating height is an important link to correct posture!
Seating height is an important link to correct posture!

 

 

Handwriting mastery is a complex skill. Yes, I admit that it is. But, just like any other skill, there are some basic procedures that must be learned before a beginner can hope to become a master. For handwriting success, there are 3 performance areas that simply need to be taught right from the start.

 

 

Let’s have a look at them, shall we?

 

1.  Posture

A writer’s sitting posture should be comfortable and provide a sturdy foundation for a smooth handwriting style. It’s very simple to figure out, really, if you remember the “90-90-90 Angle Rule.”

When students are seated at their desks:

  • Their feet should rest flat on the floor with a 90-degree angle at the ankles.
  • Their knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle about an inch away from the seat of the chair.
  • Their hips should be positioned at a 90-degree angle and nestled comfortably into the back of the seat.

 

These angles will allow the students to rest their elbows on the desk in a comfortable flexed position. For right-handers, it will also place their arm in a neutral position with a slightly flexed wrist for a smooth glide across the page. Left-handed writers should maintain a straight wrist position to avoid a “hooked wrist” handwriting style.

 

Important Note: This Angle Rule can only be followed if the chair is the appropriate height for the writer!   Why?

  • If the chair is too low, students may sit on their feet or hunch their shoulders to get a better look at their work.
  • If the chair is too high, their feet will dangle beneath them.   Students may sit on their feet to stabilize their bodies or slouch so that they can get closer to their work.

But, don’t fret! There are easy solutions to both of these problems.

  • For chairs that are too low, have the students sit on a book or sturdy cushion to bring the ankles, knees, and hips into the 90-degree angle.
  • For chairs that are too high, place a book under the students’ feet to provide the stabilizing 90-degree angle at the ankles.

 

 

2.  Paper Placement

Slanted paper and a 3-ring binder can facilitate a fluid handwriting style.
Slanted paper and a 3-ring binder can facilitate a fluid handwriting style.

There are two schools of thought about the appropriate placement of paper for handwriting success. The following is my preferred guidelines!

Handwriting mastery requires smooth wrist, elbow, and shoulder movements.   A slanted paper position allows the writer to use the hand, arm, and shoulder efficiently.

 

  • For all writers, the paper should be positioned at the student’s midline with the bottom angle placed about 1” from the lower edge of the desk.
  • For left-handed writers, the paper should be slanted to the right at about a 30-45-degree angle. This allows the writer to “push-rather-than-pull” his pencil across the page and to see where he is writing. This also helps him avoid smudging his work as he smoothly moves his arm across the page.
  • For right-handed writers, the paper should be slanted at about a 20-35-degree angle to the left.

 

The student’s helper hand should be placed on that side of the paper to stabilize and move it to facilitate a legible handwriting style. Each student will find his most comfortable paper slant as he begins to master his handwriting skills.

 

A tripod grasp is optimal.  But functional is more important than pretty!
A tripod grasp is optimal. But functional is more important than pretty!

 

3.  Pencil Grip

My Pencil Grip Motto is “functional is more important than pretty.” Although the tripod grasp is considered to be the optimal grasping pattern, many efficient handwriters have developed their own functional pencil grip. If a pencil grasp does not affect a student’s handwriting by making it illegible or causing him pain, then it is probably best to let sleeping dogs lie.

 

There are some simple rules that should be followed with any type of pencil grip.

  • The student’s hand should rest on the paper using the ring and little finger for support.
  • The fingers on the shaft of the pencil should provide stability using a comfortable pressure that does not cause hand or finger fatigue.
  • Smaller pencils are easier for students to learn and manage a pencil grip.

 

There are some unique rules for left- and right-handers to facilitate their handwriting success.

 

  • Left-handers should hold their pencils about 1 to 1 ½” from the point with the pencil top pointed toward the left elbow. This allows them to see what they are writing and helps to avoid smudging their work.
  • Right-handed writers can hold their pencils closer to the pencil tip if they can maintain flexible finger movements to guide their pencil strokes. If they find that their thumb, index, and long fingers become cramped, they should also use a higher position on the pencil shaft. Their pencil top should point toward their right shoulder.

 

Handwriting success depends upon a solid base of support. Posture, paper positioning, and pencil grip are three of the table legs that handwriting mastery stands on. Of course, the fourth leg is a structured, guided handwriting instruction program.

 

As always, I thank you for reading! Please be sure to comment, as I look forward to your feedback and learning from you!

 

See you soon,

 

Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/LKatherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
 
 Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.
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