Beginning Writing: The Tools

by Laurie Laurendeau on October 4, 2011

If you have a child in Kindergarten or First Grade, she is probably already faced with the written word.  Teachers usually jump “write” into writing as soon as they feel the children can handle it.  But many children struggle with simply holding a pencil.  What can you do to help?  This week, I will talk about some of the tools available to help beginning writers.  Next week, I will focus on capturing your child’s ideas on paper.

The Tools:

  • There are several specialty pencils out there to help children as they begin the process of writing.  The first one is a larger diameter pencil.  Children’s fine-motor skills are usually still developing at this stage, so the larger pencils help them grip the pencil more easily.  Be sure to also purchase a large-holed pencil sharpener.
  • There are also pencils that are shaped more like triangles (or triangular prisms, actually).  These too can be helpful for little fingers to hold pencils properly.
  • I really like the pencil by Ticonderoga called “My Hold Right Pencil”.  It has a red, yellow and green side of the pencil, and it comes with small, color- coordinated dot stickers that you place on your child’s fingernails.  The idea is the colors on the pencil should match the dots on their fingers.  This helps with proper pencil grip.
  • There are also a variety of pencil grips available.  There are the traditional rubbery ones that slide onto the end of the pencil, and they can be in different shapes such as a tube or something that looks like a wad of bubble gum.  There is also a unique pencil gripper out there called the “Writing Claw”.  It looks like a little rubber tripod.  You slip the claw onto the writing end of the pencil, and you place your thumb, fore-finger and middle finger into each of the 3 rubber holes.  Again, this helps the child with proper finger position.
  • There are also different types of paper available.  Standard 3-ring binder paper has lines that are far too close to one another for beginner writers.  Look for pads of paper called “Primary Tablets” at most office supply stores.
  • There are also pads of paper that have tactile lines; that is, the lines bump up so the child can feel her way along the line.  This is helpful for kinesthetic learners.
  • Finally, as your child transitions from Primary paper to wide-ruled notebook paper, there is a paper called “RediSpace” by Mead that has a green margin at the left of the page, a red margin at the right of the page, and small vertical lines along each line to help your child with proper letter spacing.

Next week, I will talk about capturing your young writer’s ideas on paper.  As always, please feel free to post a comment or question!

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