Cursive Help?

My son is learning cursive in school this year and is really struggling. The biggest issue that I see is that he holds his pencil in a fist instead of holding it correctly. All of his teachers (going back to preschool) have tried to get him to hold his pencil correctly and he refuses to even try. Every attempt that is made to teach him to do this ends in frustration for everyone. He's a very stubborn child who has some sensory issues and I think that it just doesn't feel good to him to hold the pencil right. 

I'm wondering if there are any specialists out there who are good at correcting this issue. Someone who has some techniques for switching his grip other than just showing him how to do it correctly. I would think that we are not the first family to struggle with this and there must be a good technique for this that is different and could maybe make a game out of it or come up with some other way to get him to actually try to do this right. Being the only kid struggling with this isn't providing incentive to do it correctly, instead he just complains about how much he hates school. 

Any advice/recommendations? Thanks

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RE: Cursive Help? ()

Oh I think you need an OT (occupational therapist) for this. In fact I'm sure of it - I have had several friends report the same issue and they have had terrific results with an OT. The school should actually have one on hand, which should be free, but if you have the money, you can just find one on your own -- may even be covered by insurance. 

RE: Cursive Help? ()

Run, don't walk, to an Occupational Therapist!  Your son may be struggling with handwriting due to actual fine motor issues or even dysgraphia.  An Occupational therapist will evaluate and be able to have him do exercises to help strengthen or even suggest a correction that suits him better.  He may also need to use an additional "gadget" on his pencil that will help with positioning.  If your son does end up having dysgraphia (also can be assessed by the OT), then he will benefit from accomodations to writing.  Things like reduction to the amount of physical writing, being given copies of instructions so he wont have to write them all down himself, and being allowed to use a keyboard for long handwriting assignments.  Circle Development Center in Oakland is a good place, but I'm sure there are many OT centers.  (btw, my daughter has dysgraphia so we've been through this process)

RE: Cursive Help? ()

You might want to try teaching him to use chopsticks. They make a helper set and it would show him a different grip. Then he might be more willing to try something different with a pencil. Just an idea.

RE: Cursive Help? ()

Have you tried any pencil grip aids? 

https://www.google.com/search?q=pencil+grip+aid&rlz=1C1AVNG_enUS675US676...

I would also approach this very very slowly. Try getting him to just hold the pencil, without writing anything, for a week, or maybe longer. After he gets used to that, move on to scribbling for another week or two or longer. Then maybe a coloring book. Then loops or circles or something relatively simple. Finally, try letters. But let him get comfortable with each step before moving on. 

RE: Cursive Help? ()

Dear Mama Bear- Used to teach 3rd Grade and know this subject well. I always started out by telling the children that cursive was an art form...individual expression welcome. Holding the pencil with a fist worries me because that means past teachers didn't address the issue. Now he has the habit. And that part has to be broken. Cursive is correctly taught by first teaching the large "shapes" that make it up. A straight line. A circle, etc. This can be done with watercolors on cheap paper. Use the whole arm. There is also a wonderful program-an oldie but goodie-called Handwriting without Tears. Your son has what we call an affective filter or a brick wall up nice and solid, because he probably has always hated handwriting. Ya' gotta get around the wall sneaky-like. Encourage art work at home and get him to hold the brush correctly. Hopefully that will help because writing with a fist is actually very uncomfortable and uses excess energy from the arm. I would hate writing too!

RE: Cursive Help? ()

If this is a public school his teacher or an occupational therapist may be able to help. They make special grips that slide on the pencil that facilitate the proper hold. I am wondering why this has not been a problem until 3rd grade when they learn cursive? They should have that down by 1st grade. Ask his teacher if the occupational therapist can help.

RE: Cursive Help? ()

My sensory-sensitive kid had a difficult grip too, and what was helpful (didn't "cure" his writing difficulty, but helped him) was the claw pencil grip. You can get a bag full on Amazon, and if you give them to his teacher to use for the whole class, he won't feel so weird doing it. You don't even have to let him know it's from you, to avoid a power struggle.and if kids already use the correct grip, they will find it fun and comfortable and your son might too. The thin soft rubbery grip has 3 deep "cups" arranged around a central hole meant for the pencil, and the tips of your fingers sit in the cups and keep your fingers in the correct position for writing. Good luck!

RE: Cursive Help? ()

You might want to consider the HANDLE Institute, Holistic Approach to Neuro Developmental Development. Local practitioner is Sindy Wilkenson in Lafayette at the Enhanced Learning and Growth Center 925-934-3500. I'm sure she can explain more clearly than can I, but they might say that these issues are not about hand position but neurological development, so through a series of exercises the sensory issues, including the handwriting, are addressed and the more basic connections are strengthened. It's not cheap but the price includes an in-depth assessment, a customized plan for exercises that you do together, a check in a week to see how it's going, then monthly sessions to fine tune and advance the program for six months. I SO wish I had known about this when my son was young enough that I could essentially make him do it. . . It's a positive thing you do together to help him and it's fun. Good luck to you.

RE: Cursive Help? ()

I once received a suggestion for ergonomic issues to hold the pen or pencil between the knuckles of your index and middle finger. Your hand is pretty much in a fist, but with the palm down instead of facing to the side. For me, I don't have quite as much dexterity as with a standard grip (but that could be practice), but it's remarkably easy to write fluidly. I don't know if your son would take to that better any better than the standard grip, but it seems worth a try.

RE: Cursive Help? ()

I can share my experience from a few years ago.  My son also did not have a good grip for writing.  It is a very difficult thing to change.  We tried "grip adapters for writing utensils" which you can google.  These are soft rubber pieces that slide on the pen.  It was no magic solution, but helped me feel like I was doing something.  I just noticed this on Amazon, the Pencil Grip Writing Claw, says it: "eliminates thumb-wrap and fist grips."   I think a fist grip will be even harder to shift, and my thought is to use a completely different shape pen to help your child.  If you google ergonomic pens, you will find some ideas,  the PenAgain, has a completely different grip that your child might be willing to try.   My son never became adept at cursive.  Maybe an occupational therapist would be able to help.  My son's teachers did not have the skills to address the concern.  

RE: Cursive Help? ()

Thanks for all of the helpful suggestions! We will ask about the OT at our next SST meeting. I like all of these ideas and am open to trying anything to get this fixed.