The Write Way

I was forever making substandard grades in penmanship way back in elementary school.  It took me a sweet forever to figure out that it was because I was left handed, and the pencil marks would smudge across the page as my left hand drug across my own writing.

This was before the invention of non-smearing #2 pencils.  You know, right after the quill & ink period of American education.  Some years later, my mother confided to me that the nuns requested that she make me switch from writing with my left hand to the right one.  She had the good sense to say no, as she felt that would permanently scar me.

Of course she didn’t think twice before taking me to see Bonnie & Clyde when I was EIGHT, as she didn’t want to go alone.  I still have nightmares.  Of course, I’ve already begun a therapy fund for my own children to assuage the guilt over parenting decisions that I’m making now.

Anyhoo.  My first born is also left handed.  As is her father.  I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get a left handed child to hold the pencil correctly.  It has been a constant battle.  Which I would never have waged, because you should see the way I hold a pencil.  Fiddledaddy is rather fastidious with regards to pencil holding, so as chief penmanship officer in our little homeschool, I have to follow correct pencil holding protocol.

But really, if it’s fairly legible, WHO CARES?  Just don’t tell my students.

Mom’s Homeroom recently tackled the subject of Handwriting Help for Kids.  And the article I read addressed my WHO CARES attitude about the tripod pencil grip.  And why an incorrect grip can cause problems down the road.  Great.  More therapy.  There is a lot of terrific information to help guide a weary parent if they feel their child needs help in this area.

My 7 year old was off to a rocky writing start this year.  This is the child that will spontaneously fall to the floor from his chair with no provocation whatsoever.   I’ve had to think outside of the box while encouraging his fine motor skills and keeping his ever wandering attention.  One tip that I hit on by accident was to give the child a pad of tracing paper.  He found that he loved to trace all of his favorite cartoon characters from beloved coloring books, even more so than actually coloring them.  I would watch him painstakingly trace each line until the entire picture was completed.  Shortly afterward, I noticed a huge improvement in his handwriting.

Mom’s Homeroom also has some other creative ways to improve a child’s handwriting.  None of which will invoke hand wringing and tears.  I’ve actually used the shaving cream on the shower door idea.

Any other out-of-the-box ideas for fine tuning those all important fine motor skills?

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April 30, 2012

8 Responses to The Write Way

  • Believe it or not, fountain pen with a bottle of ink!

    When I read it somewhere, I thought that was absolutely nuts. . .but when you hit “rock bottom” you are willing to take on anything. My 3rd son had atrocious handwriting, so we gave it a go.

    I can’t give you any reasons why. I know that due to the tip, the pen HAS to be held a certain way. Maybe the permanency of the ink has an effect? Maybe it’s the tactile “scritch” on the paper? Or the historical feel of the whole thing? The knowledge that Mom is trusting him with this highly permanent ink bottle to dip in? Maybe it’s because he “knows” it is a skill few of his fellows are learning?

    His writing is by no stretch of the imagination “pretty”. However, there is a HUGE difference to his penmanship in pencil (or pen) and his fountain pen work.

  • A bouncer ball. You know the big balls with the handles on top for the kid to bounce on? I don’t know why, but once we got our Toby one of those he’s stopped falling out of his chair for no particular reason (your line about J doing this reminded me of this) and his handwriting is a tiny bit more legible. And thanks for the idea of tracing paper. I’ll give that a try!

  • Well with my son his issue besides just grip was keeping his wrist down. So we had him write on the glass sliding back door with a dry erase marker which forced him to hold his pen correctly and keep his wrist down which has helped a lot, plus he thinks it is cool he gets to “write” on the door. I learned this technique through his Occupational Therapy teacher who is AMAZING. You can also hang paper on the wall and have him try that way too with a pencil.

  • oops one more thing that has helped with his handwriting (not necessarily his grip though) but in reminding him to stop when writing is “bumpy paper” which has the lines slightly raised to remind him wear to stop so he does not write “IN ALL CAPS” for people with little vision to be able to see across the room. 🙂

  • I’d suggest you give the option of trying different pencil holding methods as well as different mediums such as ink.

    What size pencil does he use? My brother had learned to write with a normal pencil. We changed schools (military brats) and his new teacher insisted he use the fat ones. His handwriting declined and never recovered.

    I’m a righty, but I too had different teachers influencing (read “do it MY way”) my writing. I learned to put a back slant on mine – so even though I’m a righty, people think it’s lefty. Otherwise mine would be atrocious, too.

    Fiddledaddy’s ability with pencil/ink is great.

  • OK, had to share this. My best friend and I got the great idea of trying to write as small as we could when we were in 12th grade. Our Latin teacher was, however, not impressed and wrote on our papers that if we didn’t start writing bigger, we would get an automatic “F”. So much for our small attempt at going green to save paper.

  • I am a lefty and have always had awful handwriting. I struggled to write ‘to please the teacher’ which meant slanted to the right. Left handed writing doesn’t slant that way. It either goes straight up and down or slightly slanted to the left. People never ‘get’ this until I ask a right handed person to make a ‘check mark’. Down and to the right. It’s a pulling action. For a left handed person to do the same movement, the tail goes to the left. A lefties handwriting is ‘pushed’ across the paper…a very different movement. Anyway…don’t stress out over the slant. I would be a much better hand writer now if my teachers didn’t obsess over the weirdest nuances of handwriting and simply let me write and let the chips (or slants) fall where they may. Not very many people write like teachers, so I always wonder why they try so hard to get kids to hold to such a strange standard. Well, having said all of that…good luck to you. PS..I thought of you this morning in my health food market..I saw your beloved Chocovine. 🙂

  • If you are using crayons, have him use the broken ones. The shorter crayons will correct his grip. I work with preschoolers, and it’s an amazing trick!