Category Archives: Handwriting Difficulties

Blogs and articles to help with handwriting difficulties
– choosing the best beginner pencil for learning to write
– choosing the best pencil grip
– colouring in more effectively
– exercises and activities to do to improve your handwriting

How to teach your left handed child to write confidently – 12 simple steps

How to teach your left handed child to write in 12 easy steps.
How to teach your left handed child to write in 12 easy steps.

How to teach your left handed child to write confidently in 12 simple steps.

For a right-hander to teach a left-handed child to write can be daunting but a few simple steps should set your child on a very positive path to successful handwriting.

1. Directionality: Most people write from left to right naturally, lefties do the opposite, moving from right to left. Mirror writing or writing backwards can occur regularly in left-handers.

To help reinforce the left to right direction of handwriting and reading add a visual cue by drawing a thick green start/go line down the left hand side of their paper and tell them to drive off from the left ‘go’ side to the right hand side of the page.

When reading to your left-handed child run follow the line of words being read with your finger, this will continue to reinforce the left-right direction.

The perfect pencil grip for left-handers - the tripod grip
The perfect pencil grip for left-handers – the tripod grip

2. Observe and correct the pencil grip: The pencil should be held in a ‘tripod’ grip (pinch pencil with index finger and thumb, rest it on the middle finger) with the pencil held at around a 45 degree angle pointing toward their left shoulder. This will help with dynamic finger movements and proper wrist position making it less likely that your child will hook their wrist further down the road, a common trait in lefties. Holding the pencil about 1.5cm above the tip of the pencil allows your child to see what they’re writing and reduces smudging.

Stabilo back to school pencil pack. Left Handed. Includes Stabilo Easy Ergo 3.15mm pencil, Stabilo Easy Graph Colour pencils, 3 Stabilo Graphite Pencils, Stabilo sharpening 3 - in - 1 sharpening box and Stabilo eraser. Value ergonomic pencil grab and go pack, just add the pen of your choice.
Stabilo Left Handed back to school pencil pack. Made to encourage the tripod grip in left-handers. Available in blues or pinks.

If your child finds it difficult remembering where to hold their pencil you can mark the pencil with a permanent marker. Stabilo make left-handed pencils with notches cut out for correct finger positioning which your child may find helpful.

Gripping their pencil too tightly is a common problem in lefties – use of chunky pencils or grips is useful for these children.

Crayon Rocks 8 Primary Colours in a blue velvet bag
Crayon Rocks help lefties avoid gripping their pencil with four fingers and strengthen the hand to support efficient handwriting

Left-handed children often cram an extra finger onto their pencil for extra support which can compromise fluidity and reach. Start young lefties off with Crayon Rocks – they can only be held with three fingers – no room for more! Lots of drawing and colouring in with these and your lefty should be pencil grip ready!

3. Letter formation: In general, when drawing circles righties draw them anti-clockwise, lefties go clockwise. Make sure your child understands the correct direction for forming the anti-clockwise letters ‘a, c, d, f, g, o, q’ and ‘s’ to aid handwriting speed, fluidity and better preparing them for cursive handwriting.

WriteLEFT pencil grip and trainer. Teaches the correct pencil grip by providing visual and tactile cues to finger positioning. Fun way to learn or correct a child's pencil grip.
WriteLEFT pencil grip and trainer. Teaches the correct pencil grip by providing visual and tactile cues to finger positioning. Fun way to learn or correct a child’s pencil grip. Available in 3 sizes.

Most lefties prefer to ‘pull’ their little lines (Letters ‘f’ and ‘t’ in the lower case and ‘A, E, F, H, J and T’ in the upper case) backwards to cross their letters in order to avoid tearing the paper, most left handed handwriting books and worksheets use this method. Work out what works best for your child, it’s worth experimenting with. There are no right or wrongs with this but if you are going to use left handed handwriting worksheets that indicate right to left on their little lines stick with right to left crossing to avoid confusion and frustration.

Keep handwriting activities fun and organise them at times when your child is most willing and alert.

Left hand writing skills handwriting practise books
Left hand writing skills handwriting practise books

Often handwriting books and worksheets position the handwriting example on the left hand side of the page leaving a blank to fill in on the right hand side. The example is soon obscured by left handers and makes correct copying tricky. Choose ‘Left Hand Writing Skills Books 1, 2 and 3’ handwriting workbooks by Mark and Heather Stewart. Click here to buy.

4. Word spacing: The finger spacing rule often used in schools ties lefties up in knots! Putting their right finger at the end of the word they have just written and then crossing over the top of this with their left hand to write the next word does not work. We suggest leaving a space big enough to write a letter ‘o’ between words.

The importance of providing left-handed stationery for your lefty.
The importance of providing left-handed stationery for your lefty.

5. Left handed equipment is important: Buy pencils, scissors, pencil sharpeners and rulers designed for lefties. Pencil grips designed specifically for left-handers will teach your child the correct grip.

Left handed scissors
Left handed scissors for younger children in three colour-ways, click HERE
Left handed scissors for older children
Left handed scissors for older children in three colour-ways, click HERE

Scissors: Regular scissor skill practise will help to develop the fine motor skills needed for effective handwriting. It’s important for lefty children to use left-handed scissors because of the way the blade is orientated; it allows kids to see where they are cutting and lefty scissors cut cleanly rather than folding or bending the paper. When teaching scissor skills it is important to encourage them to use their right hand as a ‘helper’ to guide the paper whilst they cut with their left hand.

Stabilo Easygraph Easycolors colouring pencils. Pack of 12 left handed pencils plus free left handed pencil sharpener. Popular pencil grip for dyspraxic children.
Stabilo  left handed colouring pencils plus free left handed pencil sharpener.

If your lefty is asked to use right handed scissors they will find that the cutting blade is positioned on the wrong side and will often miss the cutting line by the width of the blade, pain can be caused as the left-hander tries to force the blades together (pushing down slightly diagonally with their thumb to achieve the required pressure) and can cause neck ache as the child tilts their head to get a better view of their cutting line. In conclusion, right-handed scissors for a left-handed child are a definite no, no. Please invest in a decent pair of left-handed scissors.

Left handed ruler
Left handed ruler for accuracy, comfort and speed

Why do you need a left-handed ruler? Right handed rulers can be awkward to use for our lefties. Left-handers naturally draw their lines from right to left pulling their pencil across the page. A ruler that is scaled from right to left supports this and makes measuring and drawing more comfortable, accurate and faster.

Left handed pencil sharpener
Left handed pencil sharpener

Why the need for a left handed pencil sharpener? The natural motion for a left hander to sharpen a pencil is anti-clockwise. Left handed pencil sharpeners have the blade position and design reversed so that your child can hold the pencil in their left hand and turn it anti-clockwise in a natural motion.

So you think your left-handed book provides drawing and cutting practise for your pre-schooler helping them to develop their fine motor skills ready for handwriting. Lots of tips for raising your left-handed child, establishing good lefty techniques that will benefit your child throughout their lives.
So you think they’re left-handed book provides drawing and cutting practise for your pre-schooler helping  develop their fine motor skills ready for handwriting. Lots of tips for raising your left-handed child, establishing good lefty techniques that will benefit your child throughout their lives.

 

Handwriting programmes for your left-hander: For younger children ‘So, you think they’re left-handed?’ Writing skills book by Mark and Heather Watson contains photocopiable scissor skills activities aimed at left handed children with cutting angles designed especially for left handers. It contains pencil patterns and activities that will well-prepare your child for beginning to form their letters with ease. For children who are ready to start writing their letters choose ‘Left Handed Writing Skills’ handwriting workbooks by Mark and Heather Stewart. They produce a cd rom which enables schools to print off handwriting exercises for their students.

Left-handed writing schools c.d. rom
Left-handed writing skills c.d. rom

6. Seating position: If your child is sitting at a desk next to a rightie, have your child sit on the left so that they don’t bump elbows. Always allow enough space in their work areas for elbows and arm movements to be supported.

Stabilo's fabulous left-handed fountain pens. The nib is angled to allow a smooth flow of the ink across the page prevent paper snagging and tearing. The grip is moulded to fit left-handers in a tripod grip.
Stabilo’s fabulous left-handed fountain pens. The nib is angled to allow a smooth flow of the ink across the page preventing paper snagging and tearing. The grip is moulded to fit left-handers in a tripod grip.

Posture: It is important that your child is positioned correctly to support their handwriting as it will affect how they use their hands to write. A stable core/trunk will encourage good arm control. Ensure:

  • Your child’s feet are flat on the floor
  • Their bottom is right back in the seat and should reach forward to just behind your child’s knees
  • Their hips knees and ankles should all be at a 90 degree angle to each other.
  • The seat provides support in the back high enough to reach just below your child’s shoulder blades.
  • The table reaches to just above their elbow when seated
  • The chair is pulled quite close to the table allowing a small gap in front of their tummy to enable a slight forward lean with a straight back over their writing page. A sloped writing board will stop your child from leaning too far over the page.
  • Adopt the correct paper positioning for your left handed child (See below)

7. Smudges: Most left-handed children make smudge marks as their fist moves across the page, it’s important that you let your child know this is okay. In the early stages it’s just important to get them started confidently. Look for smudge free pencils and pens. Check for pencil and paper positioning as this can considerably reduce smudging.

Left-handed visio pen
Left-handed Visio pen gives an increased field of vision of the writing line. The ‘neck’ of the pen prevents the left-hand from  dropping too low onto the paper and prevents smudging.
Yoropen has proved hugely popular with left-handers
Yoropen is  hugely popular with left-handers

If smudging is beginning to affect your child’s self-confidence try a Yoropen, Yoropencil or Maped Visio pen. They have ‘necks’ that prevent your child’s hand from dropping too low onto the paper and give an increased field of vision so that your child can see what they are writing more easily.

8. Paper positioning: Ask your child to position their paper on their left side, as it will allow him/her to see it clearly when they write. Once they have written across the first line of writing to the far right of their page their left writing hand should be either directly in front of their midline or just slightly to their left. This should enable a smooth and comfortable hand movement across the page and allows them to keep their wrist straight whilst writing. It prevents smudging and allows your child to see what they are writing.

In the early stages with your child’s agreement, cut the bottom right hand corner of their paper off diagonally and teach them to line this edge parallel to the edge of their table or desk. This angle enables them to see the writing line better preventing their hand from ‘hooking’ to see what they are writing.

Alternatively you could place a sticker or strip of masking tape on the desk as a reminder of where the top of the paper should be.

Write well mat visually aids your left-handed child in their paper alignment, letter formation reinforcement and wrist position.
Write-well mat visually aids your left-handed child in their paper alignment, letter formation reinforcement and wrist position.

The Write-Well mat can be used at home or school and shows in a very visual child-friendly way how to position the paper and the wrist/hand. They last forever as they come in a quality encapsulation.

9. Left- handers should use their right hand to support their writing: Even though your child is left-handed it’s important that they still use their right ‘helper’ hand to assist with their handwriting. Teach your child to stabilise their paper using their right hand. The more stable the paper and body position the better the handwriting.

10. Copying: When setting a copying task place books above or on the right of their writing paper so that they can see what they are copying.

Often handwriting books and worksheets position the handwriting example on the left hand side of the page leaving a blank to fill in on the right hand side. The example is soon obscured by the left-handers’ arm and makes correct copying very tricky, leading to more mistakes and taking more time to complete – this is really unfair to lefties. Ensure your school have handwriting worksheets specifically designed for left-handers.

11. Help your child to verbalise their handedness: On occasion well-intentioned temporary teachers or teaching assistants may ask your child to switch their pencil to their other hand, if your child can verbalise their handedness it should avoid any problems.

12. Talk to your child’s teacher about their left-handedness: This is important as it will enable your child’s teacher to plan appropriate seating arrangements, positioning of paper for drawing and writing and for provision of appropriate materials which should include left handed scissors, chunky triangular pencils and crayons and handwriting workbooks which have the handwriting example above or to the right of the area for the child to copy on. Some pencil grips and a left-handed ruler would be beneficial too.

How to teach your left-handers to write successfully
How to teach your left-handers to write successfully

General understanding of left-handed writers: Whilst right-handers move their right hand across the page when writing, pulling their pen along with them, seeing everything they’ve written, the left-hander is going to have to push their pen or pencil over the page which is harder to control, their hand then covers up what they’ve just written. Right-handers don’t smudge their work and the binding down the middle of the book doesn’t get in their way. Often left-handed children develop their own strategies to overcome the lefty challenges often adopting uncomfortable hand positions resulting in writing fatigue, illegibility and a messy smudged page.

Is your child left-handed? It is very important to remember that hand dominance is not fully developed until the ages of 5 or 6. It is important not to force your child to be left handed, provide them with plenty of activities to engage both hands until their natural hand dominance is clear to see.

Hope this has helped! Please share your tips and pictures with us! Send them to: fantasticdys@aol.com or leave a comment below.

Handwriting with too much pressure. The reasons why and 16 ideas to help reduce pencil pressure

Handwriting with too much pressure?

Handwriting with too much pressure. The reasons why and 16 helpful solutions.
Handwriting with too much pressure. The reasons why and 16 helpful solutions.

If you or your child is constantly breaking their pencil lead, is tearing through their paper or complaining of their hand hurting then the likelihood is that they are applying too much pressure when writing.

The reasons why your child might write with too much pressure

Pencil pressure is dependent upon one of our sensory systems: proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense itself. Our proprioceptive system receives input from our receptors in our skin, our joints and muscles relating to body position, pressure, movement, stretch, contract, changes of body position in space and weight. It is proprioception that enables us to apply more or less pressure and enables us to judge the force required for a specific task. Proprioception enables us to coordinate our movements appropriately throughout the day. We know that lifting a sponge on the side in the kitchen requires very little effort and pressure, whilst lifting the bed mattress to tuck in the sheet requires more work. Alongside the proprioceptive system the brain has to coordinate input about movement, gravity and balance involving the vestibular system.

A functioning proprioceptive system allows us to move the small muscles on the hand to move the pencil in fluid movements and with that ‘just right’ pressure. If a child’s proprioceptive sense is impaired, they may find it challenging to ‘judge’ how hard they are pressing.

Heavy pressure can really reduce the speed of writing and can cause fatigue, the hand might become tired and sore.

Typical signs of too much pressure when writing

  • The pencil point breaks
  • Letters are very dark
  • Lines and handwriting are often smudged
  • Paper tears
  • Deeply embossing into the next few pages of their books
  • When erasing mistakes they don’t fully erase, mistakes can still be read

16 ideas to hep reduce pencil pressure (and a few more!!)

  1. Increase proprioception, try sensory input before handwriting, anything that involves joint compression, heavy work e.g. chair pushups, wheelbarrow walk pushes, wall push ups, animal walks, praying with hands and fingers really pushing together, therapy putty manipulation. Regularly place pressure in the upper limbs through exercises which may include crawling games, ladies press ups etc. These games can be performed ‘just for fun’ even when you are not planning a handwriting activity. Hand exercises before a handwriting task are really effective at reducing handwriting pressure. Squeeze your hand into a fist as tight as you can, then relax and stretch out the hands and fingers. Repeat
    Therapy putty for finger and pencil grip strengthening and to improve fine motor skills
    Therapy putty for finger and pencil grip strengthening and to improve fine motor skills

    a few times. Then practise writing with a tight hand compared to a relaxed hand and have your child comment on the difference in the way it felt and how the handwriting looks. This helps your child to begin to develop their awareness and words for the way they are holding their pencil.

  2. Use therapy putty – available in three different resistances, making pinch pots prior to writing or pulling small buttons from the putty provides a good ‘finger pincer’ workout for the fingers prior to writing.
  3. Try a light up pressure pen. It teaches your child how to modulate
    The Light Up Pressure Pen is ideal for children who press too hard and for anyone undertaking the Speed Up! Handwriting Programme by Lois Addy.
    The Light Up Pressure Pen is ideal for children who press too hard and for anyone undertaking the Speed Up! Handwriting Programme by Lois Addy.

    their pressure without you needing to point it out to them. Very fun and effective. If they press too hard the light will be constantly on. A super ergonomic pen too that is refillable if they want to continue using it as a permanent pen. You can challenge your child to write so that the light doesn’t come on.

  4. Secret spy messages. Create your own secret spy pads. Layer carbon paper and plain paper and staple the pad together. When they first write a message on the top of the pad it might copy through to three agents, you only want to share it with the first agent, ask them to try and reduce the pressure so that only the first agent can read the message – effective fun. Discuss the adjustments they made to succeed.
  5. Try using a mechanical pencil.  Each time the lead breaks it will
    The patented WriteRIGHT ergonomic pencil grip and trainer. Designed by an occupational therapist, the dolphin pencil grip provides a superb visual and tactile cue to finger positioning for a correct pencil grip.
    The patented WriteRIGHT ergonomic pencil grip and trainer. Designed by an occupational therapist, the dolphin pencil grip provides a superb visual and tactile cue to finger positioning for a correct pencil grip.

    provide feedback to your child encouraging them to modify their pressure. A 7mm lead is better to start with for heavy pressure writers. Your child might like the WriteRIGHT mechanical pencil and dolphin grip.

  6. Do some hole punching around the edge of the paper to ‘wake’ the muscles before handwriting
  7. Place a sheet of paper over a piece of cork or a soft mouse pad and ask your child to try and write across the paper without poking a hole through it.
  8. Place the writing paper over a sheet of sandpaper – great heavy work for the small muscles in the hand and provides strong proprioceptive feedback.
  9. Try ghost writing! Ask your child to write lightly on the paper and then erase the words without leaving any marks. Try and read the words after they’ve been erased. If you are not able to read them the writer wins the game! Great fun!
  10. Your child may benefit from sensory feedback from their
    Faber Castell GRIP 2001 HB pencil with eraser
    The raised sensory grip on the Faber Castell GRIP pencils increases proprioception and can help to reduce handwriting pressure.

    handwriting tools (especially children with sensory processing disorder). Tactile sensory seekers love textures, this can be provided on their pencil. Try the Faber Castell GRIP writing pencils, the sensory pencil grip and fidget pencils.

    Pencil fidgets for sensory seekers
    Pencil fidgets for sensory seekers
  11. Try writing on newspaper or tissue paper, a very light hand is needed to prevent tearing it.
  12. Wrap a bit of blu tack around the pencil as a grip. Encourage your child to hold the pencil with a grasp that does not press too deeply into the blu tack.
  13. Draw three identical flowers, cars etc for them to colour in. Ask them to colour them in with the same pencil, one should be coloured in lightly to make light grey, one medium grey and one dark grey. Talk about the different amounts of pressure they used to achieve the different shades of grey. Ask how it feels when they are making the darker grey compared to the lighter grey shade. You can do the same with ruler lines too – start really light and see how many different shades of lines they can make until they can’t get any darker. Do one long ruler line starting light and ending dark and vice versa, keep talking about how it felt and what the difference was. Once this is understood ask your child to write a sentence ‘too dark’, ‘too light’ and then ‘just right’. Discuss how their hand felt after each sentence. Encourage their understanding of that ‘just right’ feeling. This can then be advanced to your child writing their name with their eyes closed using the ‘just right’ pressure. Discuss how it felt.
  14. Try slipping a thin sheet of plastic under their writing paper or a page of their school exercise book. The firmer surface will reduce the amount of pressure they can use to write with. Alternatively any firm surface will have the same effect.
  15. Try increasing the width of the pencil shaft, some children find it
    Pencil pack available in pinks or blues. Support the correct tripod grip for efficient handwriting. PenAgain, Yoropen Pencil, Stabilo Ergo Pencil, Faber Castell Jumbo GRIP pencil and Faber Castell triangular GRIP standard pencil with eraser. Stabilo eraser. Comes in left or right handed packs.
    Pencil pack available in pinks or blues. Support the correct tripod grip for efficient handwriting. Available in left or right handed packs.

    easier holding a wider pencil. Try a range of pencils and ask your child if it one feels easier to write with. It is important that your child is aware of how tightly they are holding their pencil and how heavily they press on the page. The best pencil grip is a comfortable grip that allows the hands and fingers to move freely and easily when writing and drawing. Some children immediately press lighter with a change in the writing utensil.

  16. Try squeezing a stress ball before handwriting and during
    Happy Hand Exercise Ball for increased proprioception before and during handwriting
    Happy Hand Exercise Ball for increased proprioception before and during handwriting

    handwriting to help wake the muscles before handwriting.

  17. Have fun writing on a boiled egg with a felt tip, it’s quite tricky not to poke through the skin!
  18. Watch out for bi-lateral coordination difficulties (the ability to use two hands together). Some children don’t use their helping hand to stabilise their paper which can result in them using the forearm of their writing hand to compensate which can cause them to press too hard.
  19. Place a sheet of paper over a carpet tile or piece of felt placed on the table and ask your child to write on it. Show your child how the back of the paper is all raised up, have him try again so that the back of the paper isn’t raised after they’ve written a sentence. Some children enjoy the feeling of pressing really hard on their paper, if this is so switch exercise books for single sheets of paper in school to reduce the ‘feel’ of the pencil digging into the sheets of the exercise book.
  20. You could also ask your child to listen to the sound of the pencil. Pressing too hard usually creates a louder sound than when they press ‘just right’.
  21. Make sure you are not giving your child a soft pencil (B) as this will make their handwriting even darker and even more likely to look smudged. A hard pencil (HB) will not smudge so easily.
  22. A vibrating pen provides sensory feedback and can help children with low muscle tone, it helps to wake up or stimulate muscles. The wiggle pen is fun, encourage your child to hold it lightly which will result in spirally lines or apply a steady amount of pressure to write without squiggles.
  23. Finally, if despite your best efforts there is no improvement, we would recommend talking to an occupational therapist or your schools’ SEN teacher to perform a full handwriting assessment.

Well, we hope this has helped…

If you have tried something that made a real difference in reducing the hand writing pressure please share it with us! Thanks…

Copyright Fantastic Dyspraxic. Author Lisa Bochenek. 2017.

How to choose the right laptop for your Dyspraxic and or Dyslexic Child to use in school

Choosing laptops for use in school for children with Dyspraxia or Dyslexia
How to choose the right laptop for your dyspraxic or dyslexic child to use in school

After struggling to find any comprehensive help on this subject on the internet I decided to make a list of important things to consider and share them with you. Many children with dyspraxia can achieve reasonable handwriting but when the volume of writing and increased speed required significantly increases the handwriting can become illegible and the child may become very tired trying to keep up. Also the art/skill of listening and taking notes at the same time can be extremely challenging for our children, especially those with short term memory difficulties. If the problem is severe then you may need to seek an in-class scribe for your child. Also, there are many speech to text programmes available that may help. Some children may need to record the lesson and download it to their laptop using specialist programmes. I am going to keep this fairly simple for the moment though and focus on the general criteria we need to look for in a laptop that we provide to our children for use in school:

  • Battery life – Look for at least 8 hours battery time
  • Look for an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor – the higher spec you can stretch to the longer it will be useful through secondary school and University. A processor with a 6000 in it will indicate it has the  latest Intel Pentium 6th generation chip. Watch out for noisy cooling fans that protect the processor or no one will want to sit within 5 metres of your child!
  • The desk spaces have to be shared and so the screen needs to present clearly visible text but not occupy too much space – we found around the 13″ to be perfect, you could get away with a size from 11″ up to a maximum of 14″.
  • Weight – dyspraxic kids and especially those with low muscle tone do not want to be hawking around weighty laptops – ideally 2kg or less. Look for a school bag that has a padded pocket to slide the computer into easily, avoids time pulling it out of a zipped up laptop bag during lesson time – a lot of messenger style bags and rucksacks have this feature.
  • Keyboard – have your child play with a few keyboards and have them tell you which they prefer. We popped into John Lewis to try a few and the closeness of some of the keys on the keyboard was problematic for Oli. Also, there seemed to be a trend for brightly coloured and decorated keyboard areas on the laptops which were distracting to Oli and would cause unnecessary attention from other students. There also seemed to be a trend for illuminated keyboards (for gaming in the dark) which will drain battery, cause distractions and again, create unwanted attention (there is an off button you can press though).  Oli also declared after playing with a few keyboards that it was easier to see the letters on some keypads than others. The responsiveness of the keys was also important to Oli – he tried an Apple keyboard and stated that he couldn’t tell if he had pressed the key or not – this would be a problem for children with poor proprioception. Some of the keyboards were very clunky and therefore noisy in use which would not go down too well in the classroom. The keyboard should be springy and comfortable, not mushy. Look for deep travel and strong feedback. The touchpad is equally important; ensure the responsiveness is smooth and that multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom are sensibly reactive.
  • RAM – minimum 4GB, ideally 8GB plus to allow multi tasking between programmes
  • Durability – Look for durability manufacturer claims: aluminium, magnesium alloy or carbon fibre provide additional sturdiness. Some laptop manufacturers even make claims that they can be dropped! Spill resistance is also an important feature.
  • High resolution screen – Don’t be fooled by the label HD which most manufacturers claim. You need to look for a model with a display that’s at least ‘Full HD’ : 1080p, or 1920 x 1080. Even sharper screens are often labeled as 4K / Ultra HD (3840 x 2160), 2K / QHD (2560 x 1440) or are just listed by their pixel count.
  • Storage / Hard Drive –  Get an SSD (solid-state drive) rather than a mechanical hard drive: because SSDs have no moving parts, they run three to four times faster than typical 5,400 rpm or 7,200 rpm hard drives. That means faster app opening times, start times and task switching, along with much better responsiveness.
  • Wi-Fi – Make sure you get a laptop with 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, rather than the older 802.11n.
  • Ports –  USB Type-C ports are the future, but regular USB Type-A ports are the present. If you can get a laptop with a mix of both, that’s ideal. Definitely try to get a laptop with multiple USB ports, so your child doesn’t need to carry a lot of dongles around with them
  • Finally, ease of use – if your child can’t open the laptop and put it down safely on the surface then it’s not for them. Once you are down to your final few to choose from make sure they really play around with them in the store. If they have problems with fine motor skills then this may come into play in your decision making.
  • Avoid the 2 in 1’s with detachable keyboards and monitor stands – there’s too much to drop, set up etc. making them time consuming to get ready for the lesson with parts easily left behind!
  • Consider the operating system. Check with your school about software requirements. Sometimes schools will need you to have a specific type of software or operating system to ensure compliance. Windows 10 is the most popular operating system and most versatile.
  • Consider any program requirements and storage demands they may place on your system – speech to text etc. You may need to spec your system a little higher if you have a lot of these.
  • Once you have decided on the make and model you desire check out Game stores and second hand electrical stores, it can save you hundreds of pounds.
  • So what did we choose? The HP Envy 13-d008na laptop, Intel Corei5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 13.3″ Full HD is probably our number 1 choice but it is pricey at around £649, there is a cheaper HP Envy with a 4GB RAM at a more sensibly priced £499. I’m going to search around for the best prices but this is the one that Oli seemed most comfy with and should last quite a while into the future… We still haven’t purchased one yet so if there are any techies out there reading this your advice would be very welcome! Read a couple of reviews about a slightly noisy fan on the upgraded i7 model so will test for noise production again before purchasing the i5…

I’m just working on the details below and would be really delighted to hear from any parents who have children currently using their laptops in school to learn the positives and avoid the negatives and share these with you.

Prepare your laptop before school commences:

  • Upload all required programmes and test/practise on them
  • Ensure the link to the school internet is working and functional
  • Turn on the auto save to protect lost works and relieve the upset of accidents and laborious re-typing of works
  • Make sure everything is clearly labelled with your child’s name, plug and all…
  • If your child uses coloured overlays there is a disc that can be uploaded which will automatically place the overlay colour your child prefers over everything they access on the computer. It’s made by Crossbow and is available in our shop (not suitable for Apple at the moment. Please check programme compatibility). Click here to see the product.

    Virtual coloured overlay for pc. Select your perfect tint, unrestricted by the 10 colour plastic overlay choices for screens. Convenient, easy to use visual stress and reading support product.
    Virtual coloured overlay for pc. Select your perfect tint, unrestricted by the 10 colour plastic overlay choices for screens. Convenient, easy to use visual stress and reading support product.
  • If your school has provided you with written authority to use a laptop in class it would be a good idea to keep a laminated version of this with the computer for your child to present to their teacher on first meeting – avoiding any problems with teachers who are not so good with SEN accommodations
  • Set it up to your home and if possible, school printer. Some schools have dedicated IT departments that you could call in advance to help you get started effectively.
  • Download a good virus protection software programme to protect your investment and decide how often to run the scan or leave it on an automatic setting (ensuring that is not going to scan during school use times).
  • Set up short cut icons to the school internet and email etc.
  • Decide where your files should be stored – the online ‘cloud’ is good if the laptop is stolen or broken, the files can still be accessed through another computer. Back up data onto an external hard drive at home or simply use a USB memory stick which can hold up to 1TB of data. Your choices would be influenced by how much data needs to be stored and accessed on a regular basis.  Don’t forget to format any USB sticks before school starts so you’re good to go. You can buy USB sticks on wrist bands or with clips to easily clip them on and off their home key ring – helps avoid them being lost and can be accessed quickly.

Check your child knows:

The obvious ones:

  • How to turn it off and on
  • How to plug it into the charger
  • How to print off saved work
  • How to save work
  • How to email work to the teacher
  • Where to leave the laptop when not in use
  • Which lesson the laptop should be used for
  • Knows how to put it in silent mode
  • How to log into the school internet
  • How to open up the right program
  • How to use all the programs they will need to use in class
  • Daily organisation – recharging/printing and checking off work. Sometimes the auto spellcheckers can throw in a completely wrong word.
  • How to adjust the screen brightness
  • Passwords and access keys – agree where these will be kept ensuring they have fast access to them. If they have a school pocket diary that they can keep in their blazer pocket that would be the ideal place to write these details in. Just in case, keep a second copy of the passwords in their school locker.

Using a laptop in school requires organisation that will not appear overnight. A laptop might not be the best solution if your child’s typing speed is poor – try the BBC dance mat programme during the Summer holidays to see how well your child copes with touch typing.

 

A few do’s and don’ts to discuss together:

  • Avoid letting friends or classmates use the laptop at school. They could accidentally delete an important document or they might try to access a document through the Internet that may get you into trouble.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything whilst using the laptop.
  • Don’t play games on your laptop. Keep it purely for school work – use your other home gadgets to downloads gaming apps etc. This will keep your laptop fast for use in school.
  • Discuss online safety
  • Read the school IT policy together

What to do if:

  • The laptop doesn’t work – checks to run through

Parents’ suggestions and experiences:

UK Mum: My child goes into school early to print off all his work from the previous day – he had a laptop provided to him at school and he could only print off his work whilst at school.

USA Mum:  For learning how to type I can’t recommend enough keyboarding without tears. Yearly license not expensive and my hyper-mobile kids love it!

UK Mum: Develop an easily managed system for printing out work, making sure that it gets handed in, filed or stuck into their exercise books as appropriate.

UK Teacher: Check the location of your child’s desk. If they have sun directly falling onto their screen they may need to move. Decide whether to remove the spellchecker from first use – spellchecker cannot be used in exams. Remember to plan enough time to gather the evidence required and functions required for permission to use their laptop in exams.

UK Mum: Set up standard documents in Word with formatting in place so your child can start notes in a lesson or homework quickly. Set up a header that contains your child’s name and a ‘date’ field, so it automatically puts in the date the document was created. In the main body of the text are the words Title, underlined and bold, then the rest of the text is formatted in an acceptable font.

UK Mum: My son had to use a great amount of brain power just to write and therefore couldn’t think about what he was writing too. His comprehension strategy before using a laptop was, ‘how can I answer this in as few a words as possible?’ Now he has just come top in his class exam which was a complete shock.

I am a fan of mobile phones to support special ed. kids in school

They can be used to:

  • Photograph homework notes from a friend/buddy or from the blackboard
  • Photograph text from the board to have by their side to copy from.

There’s a wide range of solutions and software that may help your child:

  • A digital voice recorder may help to record in the lessons that are most challenging to keep up with
  • Text-to-speech e.g. Claroread, TextHelp
  • Speech-to-text software e.g. Dragon dictate (free version on MS Word ad free app version
  • Grammar correction software

Well, I hope this helps you to choose the perfect laptop for your child to use in school. If you have found other models or have other tips you can share please, please do, and we’ll put them into this article.

 

Copyright. Author: L Bochenek. Fantastic Dyspraxic. 2016.

Games for children with Dyspraxia

Games for children with Dyspraxia and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

Supplement your occupational therapy sessions with therapy-play sessions at home from these specially selected products.

  • All the products are available from www.fantasticdyspraxic.co.uk
  • All the games and accessories have been tried and tested with Dyspraxic children.
  • Simply click on the image to learn more about that particular game

FINE MOTOR SKILLS GAMES and accessories. All these games will help with handwriting development. Remember to click on the images below the list for further information.

  • Avalanche Fruit Stand Game
  • Bed Bugs
  • Chair stack
  • Cleverstix training chopsticks
  • Colour and spin spinning top
  • Crayon Rocks – tripod grip finger trainer crayons
  • Elephant finger trainer
  • Ergonomic pencil pack
  • Fine motor skills toolset
  • Fine motor skills peg domino game *FAVOURITE GAME*
  • Fine motor tricky tree peg game
  • Gator Grabber Tweezers
  • Get a grip patterns game
  • Happy Hand Exerciser Ball
  • Magna Maze with 2 pens
  • Mini Muffin match up game
  • Number Magna Maze Ants
  • Peg stack and thread activity set
  • Roulette Magna Maze
  • Shelby’s Snack Shack
  • Stabilo 3 in 1 pencil pack
  • String along lacing game
  • Super sorting pie
  • The sneaky snacky squirrel game
  • Time shock
  • Some people recommend the game ‘Operation’, but we have always found this too hard for our testers who reject the game early into play as they simply cannot compete on equal terms with their peers or are scared by the buzzing sound that always comes on for them. If you do have this game we suggest turning the sound off.
A fabulous game to teach coordination, early handwriting skills, motor planning, matching, colours and numbers.
Number Magna Maze Ants. A fabulous game to teach coordination, early handwriting skills, motor planning, matching, colours and numbers.
Teaches the concept of visual balance, develops fine motor manipulation skills, and encourages the use of both hands to support construction and prevent tipping. Ideal pre-handwriting preparation game.
Fine motor tricky tree peg game. Teaches the concept of visual balance, develops fine motor manipulation skills
Fine motor skill development game - provides therapy without them even realising!
Fine motor skill peg domino game – provides therapy without them even realising! *OUR FAVOURITE GAME*
Quality spinning top encourages colouring in and top spinning fun for fine motor and hand eye coordination benefits.
Quality spinning top encourages colouring in and top spinning fun for fine motor and hand eye coordination benefits.
Happy Hand Exercise Ball for fine motor skill and hand strengthening on the go.
Happy Hand Exercise Ball for fine motor skill and hand strengthening.
Dyspraxia game chair stack - fine Motor Skills and hand control, Hand/Eye Co-ordination, Strategic Motor Planning, the concept of balance and Visual Perception.
Chair stack – fine Motor Skills and hand control, Hand/Eye Co-ordination
Roulette Magnamaze develops hand eye coordination, early handwriting and reading skills and strengthens motor planning and problem solving in a fun way.
Roulette Magnamaze develops hand eye coordination, early handwriting and reading skills.
Magnamaze with 2 pens for motor planning, hand eye coordination, crossing the midline, strengthening of the muscles used for handwriting and encourages forward thinking in a fun and engaging way. Joint participation together makes it really fun.
Magnamaze with 2 pens for motor planning, hand eye coordination, crossing the midline.
Develops grip strengthening, early maths skills, memory strengthening, hand eye coordination, motor planning - all in one fun to play box set
Get a grip fine motor skills patterns game.  Develops grip strengthening, early maths skills and memory strengthening.
CleverstiX have gained wide recognition and approval from Occupational Therapists, the National Handwriting Association and Educational Suppliers.
CleverstiX have gained wide recognition and approval from Occupational Therapists, the National Handwriting Association and Educational Suppliers.
Rainbow Peg Play - stack, thread and count game. Maths side develops counting skills and colour recognition.
Peg Stack and Play Activity Set – stack, thread and count game.
Rainbow Peg Play - stack, thread and count game. Develops early stage grip, fine motor and motor planning.
Peg Stack and Play Activity Set – stack, thread and count game. Develops early stage grip, fine motor and motor planning.
Fun fine motor skills / handwriting grip game. Follow one of 16 pattern cards using 18 laces or freestyle your own design. Team with a pencil grip to ensure the tripod grip is encouraged from the start as the pencil is round and slippy. Really great way to develop finger strength through the pushing motion.
String Along Lacing Kit. Fun fine motor skills / handwriting grip game. Follow one of 16 pattern cards using 18 laces
Tummy time activity - great for shoulder strengthening for handwriting! Fun fine motor skills / handwriting grip game. Team with a pencil grip to ensure the tripod grip is encouraged from the start as the pencil is round and slippy. Really great way to develop finger strength through the pushing motion.
String Along Lacing Kit. Tummy time activity – great for shoulder strengthening for handwriting!
Super Sorting Pie Dyspraxia Game. Tweezer play for developing fine motor skills. Develops early maths skills too!
Super Sorting Pie Dyspraxia Game. Tweezer play for developing fine motor skills. Develops early maths skills too!
Shelby's snack shack Dyspraxia fine motor skills game with free Jumbo tweezers to extend fine motor skills development.
Shelby’s snack shack Dyspraxia fine motor skills game with free Jumbo tweezers to extend fine motor skills development.
Dyspraxia fine motor skills game - sneaky, snacky squirrel with free Jumbo tweezer to extend fine motor skill play. Colour matching game for 2-4 players.
Dyspraxia fine motor skills sneaky, snacky squirrel game with free Jumbo tweezer to extend fine motor skill play.
Dyspraxia game for children - Bed Bugs - fun way to develop fine motor skills.
Dyspraxia game for children – Bed Bugs – fun way to develop fine motor skills.
Many children with dyspraxia struggle to get their fingers to do what they want them to do, this is a very simple, clever toy that encourages independent movement of the fingers and thumb in a very fun way, excellent for both left and right handers.
Finger gym elephant. Clever toy that encourages independent movement of the fingers and thumb.
Children's Gator Grabber Tweezers strengthen muscles in the hands, developing the pincer grasp for school readiness.
Gator Grabber Tweezers strengthen muscles in the hands, developing the pincer grasp for school readiness.
Fine motor skills toolset
Fine motor skills toolset
Ideal game for children with dyspraxia and fine motor skill difficulties. The Avalanche fruit stand game. Comes with 2 jumbo tweezers that you can use for other fine motor skills activities.
Avalanche fruit stand fine motor skills game. Comes with 2 jumbo tweezers that you can use for other fine motor skills activities.
Dyspraxia game time shock strengthens fine Motor, Hand/Eye Co-ordination, Spatial Awareness, Visual Perception and figure ground challenges.
Time shock – Fine Motor, Hand/Eye Co-ordination, Spatial Awareness, Visual Perception and figure ground challenge game.
Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils are really versatile. Use on windows, paper, even the sides of wellies! Strong colours, water soluble for blending colours with water. Ideal for encouraging pencil grip time.
Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils are really versatile. Use on windows, paper, even wellies! Encourages pencil grip time.
Crayon Rocks® are the best crayon you can buy to encourage the tripod grip in your child's early handwriting development
Crayon Rocks® really are the best crayon you can buy to encourage the tripod grip in your child’s early handwriting development
16 Crayon Rocks in muslin bag for fine motor development
16 Crayon Rocks® in a muslin bag – the best fine motor skills crayon
Dyspraxia pencil pack available in pinks or blues. Support the correct tripod grip for efficient handwriting in the later years. PenAgain, Yoropen Pencil, Stabilo Ergo Pencil, Faber Castell Jumbo GRIP pencil and Faber Castell traingular GRIP standard pencil with eraser. Stabilo eraser. Comes in left or right handed packs.
Popular Dyspraxia pencil pack available in pinks or blues. Unique pack of OT recommended pencils.
Fine Motor Skills, Colour Recognition, Sorting, Matching and Counting Game ideal for children with Dyspraxia. Squeezy tweezers and activity guide.
Fine Motor Skills Muffin Match Up Game, Colour Recognition, Sorting, Matching and Counting Game ideal for children with Dyspraxia. Squeezy tweezers and activity guide.

 

FINE MOTOR SKILLS GAMES and activities for fun in the bath – Remember to click on the image for further information.

  • Fine motor skills toolset *FAVOURITE TOOLS FOR THE BATH*
  • Stabilo 3 in 1 pencil pack (but don’t get it on the grouting)
Fine motor skills dyspraxia toolset for strengthening the fine motor skills. Fun scissor scoop for pre-scissor skills development. Endless play possibilities. Can be used at bath time too.
Fine motor skills dyspraxia toolset for strengthening the fine motor skills. Fun scissor scoop for pre-scissor skills development. Endless play possibilities. Can be used at bath time too.
Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils are really versatile. Use on windows, paper, even the sides of wellies! Strong colours, water soluble for blending colours with water. Ideal for encouraging pencil grip time.
Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils are really versatile. Use on windows, paper, even the sides of wellies! Strong colours, water soluble for blending colours with water. Ideal for encouraging pencil grip time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GROSS MOTOR SKILL GAMES and activities – Remember to click on the image for further information.

  • Scooter board (with hockey sticks!) *FAVOURITE*
  • Alpha Catch
  • Balance beam
  • Easy catch sensory ball
  • Easy catch beanbag scarf
  • Floor surfer / roller board / scooter board by Gonge
  • Rainbow comet easy catch ball
  • Gymnic Rody Junior Cavallo Horse
  • Gymnic Rody Max Space Hopper
  • Gymnic sensory ball
  • Puff and play super soft easy catch ball
  • Stepping stone
  • Rockerboard
  • Wobbleboard
  • Balance cushion
  • Gymnic disc ‘o’ sit
  • Gymnic physio peanut roll
  • Gymnic Raffy
  • Gymnic Hop
  • Stabilo 3 in 1 pencil pack
  • Some people recommend the game ‘Twister’ but we have found this too hard for our children who avoid participation.

BALANCE GAMES and activities

  • Scooterboard
  • Fine motor tricky tree peg game
  • Balance beam *FAVOURITE*
  • Gymnic Rody Max Space Hopper
  • Stepping stones
  • Rockerboard
  • Wobbleboard
  • Balance cushion
  • Gymnic Disc ‘o’ sit
  • Gymnic Physio peanut roll
  • Gymnic Raffy
  • Gymnic Hop
High quality weighted bean bag scarf makes throwing and catching a positive experience for children with dyspraxia. Just missed the bean ball ? Catch the scarf instead!
Easy catch bean bag scarf makes throwing and catching a positive experience for children with dyspraxia.
Rainbow comet makes catching a ball easy - gross motor skill and hand eye coordination play for increased ball-catching confidence.
Rainbow comet easy catch ball  – gross motor skill and hand eye coordination play for increased ball-catching confidence.
Super soft lightweight 16cm ball is easy to catch. Maliable and easily self inflated rewards children for their puff with some gross motor play!
Puff and play super soft easy catch ball.
High quality balance beam stimulates child's balance and co-ordination.
High quality balance beam stimulates child’s balance and co-ordination. *FAVOURITE*
Moulded cushion gives excellent grip due to raised sensory surface. Sit, stand or kneel - will improve co-ordination, balance and posture.
Balance cushion . Sit, stand or kneel – will improve co-ordination, balance and posture.
Scooter board for gross motor and balance skills.
Scooter board / floor surfer for gross motor and balance skills. We love this board – ergonomically perfect and very comfortable *FAVOURITE*
An 11cm diameter ball with a raised sensory surface makes this a softer ball to teach touch and texture. Inflatable using a needle pump. Ideal for gentle massage too.
Easy catch sensory ball – a raised sensory surface makes this a softer ball to teach touch and texture. Ideal for gentle massage too.
Stepping stones encourage movement, gross motor skills, balance and motor planning.
Stepping stones encourage movement, gross motor skills, balance and motor planning.
Quality heavy duty moulded plastic scooter board with handles and non-marking wheels. Scootering is great for developing balance and coordination and conditions shoulder muscles and upper body for handwriting effectiveness.
Quality heavy duty moulded plastic scooter board with handles and non-marking wheels. Scootering is great for developing balance and coordination and conditions shoulder muscles and upper body for handwriting effectiveness. *FAVOURITE*
Add 2 scooter board hockey sticks to your purchase for purposeful therapy play and longer adherence. Fun for you too!
Add scooter board hockey sticks to your scooter boards for fun therapy play *FAVOURITE*
Soft sensory rubber ball which is easy to catch and grasp. Encouraging all ability participation and confidence. Improves gross motor confidence and hand eye coordination skills.
Soft sensory easy to catch and grasp ball. Encouraging all ability participation and confidence.
Gentle to the touch yet provides a good grip. Can be re-inflated by an adult using a needle pump. Adjustable inflation and sensory bumps make the surface easier to hold onto and catch. Quality made Gymnic product. Suitable for massage, hand therapy, reflexology and relaxation exercises.
Gymnic sensory soft touch ball. Gentle to the touch yet provides a good grip. 
Adjustable inflation and sensory bumps make the surface easier to hold onto and catch. Quality made Gymnic product. Suitable for massage, hand therapy, reflexology and relaxation exercises.
Alpha Catch Phonics Game with added bonus of developing some Gross Motor Skills and Hand-Eye coordination! The best way for Dyspraxic kids to learn is to make it fun and memorable - this set is just brilliant for this. Includes loads of fun ideas for active learning.
Alpha Catch Phonics Game with added bonus of developing some Gross Motor Skills and Hand-Eye coordination for Dyspraxic Kids. The best way for Dyspraxic kids to learn is to make it fun and memorable – this set is just brilliant for this. Includes loads of fun ideas for active learning.
Gymnic Rody Junior Cavallo ride on bouncy horse for ages 3-5. A fun dynamic toy that helps children with dyspraxia to develop balance, coordination, movement and motor planning skills safely and independently.
Gymnic Rody Junior Cavallo ride on bouncy horse for ages 3-5. Develop balance, coordination, movement and motor planning skills safely and independently.
Gymnic physio activity roll for gross motor skills work - ideal for children with dyspraxia. Really fun peanut ball that children will be fascinated by and will want to exercise with.
Gymnic physio activity roll for gross motor skills work – ideal for children with dyspraxia. Really fun peanut ball that children will be fascinated by and will want to exercise with.
Gymnic Disc O Sit balance cushion
Gymnic Disc O Sit balance cushion
Gymnic Rody Max - safe 'hopping' fun
Gymnic Rody Max – safe ‘hopping’ fun.
Wobble balance board
Wobble balance board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope you have found this summary of Dyspraxia games helpful, please send in your suggestions about the games you have found to be successful with your children. Of course, not every game has to be bought, there are lots of ways to stimulate these skills. Hopefully this selection will add a few more options to your Dyspraxia play box.

Rocker balance board
Rocker balance board

Tweezer activities for children to develop fine motor skills for handwriting

Children’s Tweezer Activities To Develop Fine Motor Skills for handwriting.

Tweezers are valuable tools for developing fine motor skills in the fingers, hands and wrists. Their use should be encouraged from a young age alongside other fine motor development activities. This will support your child’s progression towards the effective tripod pencil grip taught throughout schools in the UK. I like to combine the use of tweezers with maths skills for an easy 2 in 1.

Children's Gator Grabber Tweezers strengthen muscles in the hands, developing the pincer grasp for school readiness.
Children’s Gator Grabber Tweezers strengthen muscles in the hands, developing the pincer grasp for school readiness.

For older children or as your child progresses with the tweezers move on to picking up smaller and smaller items.  Use a variety of tongues and tweezers to add interest and to increase levels of dexterity.

WARNING! When using tweezers, many of the activities involve small pieces which present a choking hazard and should not be performed by children under 3 years of age. Older children should be fully supervised by an adult. We would advise that everything gets counted out and counted back in again to ensure no small pieces are left around that could cause choking after the activity.

Activity 1. Stuck in the swamp! Swamp rescue!

Get a little character (Lego person for example), fill a bowl with cocoa pops and stick your little characters just in sight. Use your tweezers to rescue your characters from the swamp and transfer them into a bowl.

Activity 2. Fruity stack ’em up…

Play vegetable or fruit stack ’em up. Cut cuboids of fruit and place them in a bowl. Grab a plate and take it in turns to use your tweezers to transfer a shape to the plate, piling one shape upon another until the pile falls down to end the game. You could remove the competitive element and build a wall of fruit using your tongs, each taking it in turns to add a fruit brick; see how high or long you can build your wall.

Activity 3. Ted’s got spots!

Get some red felt and cut out some small circles or you could use red beads. Place them around Ted’s tummy. ‘Oh no! Ted’s got spots!’ Ask your child if they can be Doctor and remove Ted’s spots into a bowl using their tweezers to make Ted feel better.

Activity 4. Ant escape!

Buy some of those small plastic ants (careful of choking – sorry, I have to say that.) and place them in a long line from the back door through the house. Using your tweezers capture the ants and transfer them to a jar – happy fun!

Activity 5. Sand snakes. Cut up some pipe cleaners into 5cm lengths (your snakes) and fill a tray with play sand. Stick the ‘snakes’ into the sand so that they are just peeking out. Have your child pull them out and pop them in a jar using their tweezers. You can count as you do it.

Activity 6. Pom Pom beat the clock. Place 2 bowls at opposite ends of the room, fill one with pompoms and leave the other empty. Using a sandtimer see how many pompoms they can transfer in 2 minutes. Alternatively. You could both have a bowl at either end of the room and in the centre of the room place a bowl full of pompoms and the sandtimer. Running back and forth collecting a pompom in your tweezers and filling up your bowl have a race to see who can get the most pompoms in their bowl by the time the sand timer runs out.

Activity 7. Nature tweezer trail. How many different items can you collect using your tweezers from around the garden?

Activity 8. Santa’s dropped his bells! Great for Christmas – get a handful of the coloured jingly bells from your local craft shop. Write Santa’s address on an envelope. Tell your child you discovered a lot of bells lying all around the house, Santa must have been checking to see if you were good. ‘Let’s post them back to Santa as he must really need them’. Using the tweezers have your child transfer the bells one by one into the envelope that you can hold open for your child. You can repeat this at least once a week to let them know that Santa’s watching! Exciting… You could do it with Santa’s buttons, pom poms from his hat.

Activity 9. Look for every opportunity to use tweezers. Whilst playing board games use tweezers to move the pieces instead of using the fingers. Use serving tongues at the dinner table for salads and vegetables etc. and ask your child to serve a little to each of you or you could all have a pair of tweezers at the dinner table – even more fun!

Activity 10. Remove the spikes. Make a large playdoh hedgehog without spikes, push some large buttons or large coins into it for the spikes. Use the tweezers to pull out the spikes. You could do a ladybird one with black buttons sticking out too. This adds some resistance to the activity for more advanced tweezer users.

Activity 11. All mixed up! Purchase a bag of mixed nuts or seeds and have your child use their tweezers to sort them according to type into separate bowls.

Activity 12. Feed the frog. Get a cardboard box. Draw and colour a frog with a very large mouth on one side of the box. Cut out the mouth. Have your child feed pom poms or a mixture of small sized foods to the frog using their tweezers.

Activity 13. Pompom muffin tray sorter. Cut out some coloured circles and place 1 of each colour into a separate compartment of the muffin tray. Take some coloured pompoms and using the tweezers match and transfer the pompoms to the correct colour, in the tray. You could also label an egg carton 1 through to 12, get out the dried beans or dried macaroni and tweezer across the right number of beans or macaroni pieces per compartment. Old ice cube trays work really well for transferring beads and marbles into using your tweezers too.

More fine motor skills solutions available in our shop. Just click on the photo for further information:

8 Crayon Rocks in a muslin bag
8 Crayon Rocks® in a muslin bag – the perfect natural start towards developing a strong tripod grip for efficient handwriting in later years.
Fine motor skills dyspraxia toolset for strengthening the fine motor skills. Fun scissor scoop for pre-scissor skills development. Endless play possibilities. Can be used at bath time too.
Fine motor skills dyspraxia toolset for strengthening the fine motor skills. Fun scissor scoop for pre-scissor skills development. Endless play possibilities. Can be used at bath time too.
Ideal game for children with dyspraxia and fine motor skill difficulties. The Avalanche fruit stand game. Comes with 2 jumbo tweezers that you can use for other fine motor skills activities.
Ideal game for children with dyspraxia and fine motor skill difficulties. The Avalanche fruit stand game. Comes with 2 jumbo tweezers that you can use for other fine motor skills activities.

What is a quad grip? What pencil grip should I choose to correct a quad-grip? Should I correct a quadrupod grasp?

What is a quadrupod pencil grasp?

  • This grasp is characterised by the pencil being pinched between the thumb, index and middle finger, with the pencil resting on the ring finger.

Should I correct a quad-grip?

  • If the thumb is wrapping itself across the top of the pencil in the quad-grip and the web space (the web is the thin skin found between thumb and index finger) is closed,  then this will cause stamina and speed problems with their handwriting as they get older and should be addressed.
  • Not all quad grips are ineffective but if your child’s stamina and speed is poor you may want to look at moving them towards a dynamic tripod grip.
  • Just to throw another thought in, some evidence is beginning to suggest that the focus be on handwriting speed and letter formation and not in fact, the grip. You may want to consider the Lois Addy Speed Up! handwriting programme for ages 8+ or the Write From The Start programme, for the younger years or even follow one of these programmes alongside the grip changes.

What pencil grip should I choose for an inefficient quad-grip?

  • It may take a while to feel comfortable with a pencil grip when moving from a quad grip. Consider a reward system, as often it will take some time to adjust, especially if they are a little older.

    Quadrupod pencil grip and grasp pack. For children and adults with an inefficient quadrupod pencil grip seeking to re-train to a more dynamic tripod pencil grip. Suitable for left and right handers. Includes crayon rocks, penagain twist 'n write pencil, faber castell grip pencil with eraser and 6 of the best tripod pencil grips.
    Quadrupod pencil grip and grasp pack. For children and adults with an inefficient quadrupod pencil grip seeking to re-train to a more dynamic tripod pencil grip. Suitable for left and right handers.
  • Combine the use of pencil grips with the Twist ‘n Write or Penagain pens and pencils in this instance, as it encourages a more natural and comfortable tripod grip. The Twist ‘n Write pencil is great for correcting a thumb overlap grip. Children who have a thumb overlap grip will get by in pre-school and KS1. Once the writing demand increases at KS2 these students will start to complain of hand fatigue and pain. Low tone and decreased strength are also addressed effectively using this pencil over the more traditional pencil grips. The Twist ‘n Write pencil is often the choice for occupational therapists correcting inefficient pencil grips in children.

    The Penagain Twist 'N Write Pencils are perfect for correcting an inefficient pencil grip, thumb wrap grip, quadrupod grip and for supporting low muscle tone - related handwriting difficulties.
    The Penagain Twist ‘N Write Pencils are perfect for correcting an inefficient pencil grip, thumb wrap grip, quadrupod grip and for supporting low muscle tone – related handwriting difficulties.
  • I would also recommend the tripod finger activities detailed in the help with handwriting blog.
  • Definitely plan lots of activities with the amazing Crayon Rocks® – no matter what age they are – these can only be held in a tripod grip, practise sweeping swathes of colour across the page with these to stimulate and develop the muscles needed for an effective tripod grip. Another tip is to break some chalks into smaller pieces, these will not give room to accommodate the quad-grip and so the tripod grip would be used to hold them instead. Plan plenty of variety in your activities.

    Crayon Rocks® are the best crayon you can buy to encourage the tripod grip in your child's early handwriting development
    Crayon Rocks® the best crayon you can buy to encourage the tripod grip for handwriting development
  • Shorten the pencils: I recommend the Faber Castell Grip pencils, the only downside is they don’t do a shorter version. The solution is to sharpen them down to just above the size of a golf pencil – this pencil will now offer them the grip they need but not enough room to cram that quadrupod grip onto. A shorter pencil offers the child more control too, trying to write with the weight of an adult-sized pencil is not easy for everyone. Worth a try…
  • Try the Grotto Grip when the pencil is held with the thumb wrapped tightly over the index finger or tucked under, both limit more efficient movements of the thumb and tend to fatigue the muscles in the forearm.
  • Spend some time each day with your child practising the tripod grip with these supports and ensure a little is done each day practising the tripod grip without the support tools too. Plenty of reinforcing praise. Practise shape formations: crosses, circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise), triangles, squares.
  • Sometimes children place all their fingers on the pencil because they find it challenging to separate the pinky (ulnar) side from the thumb (radial) side of the hand.  Train their muscles by getting  them to hold a pom-pom or marble or small object in their ring and pinky fingers against the palm while holding the pencil with their three free fingers – instant tripod!
  • You may find our page on how to choose the correct pencil grip helpful alongside our page on help with handwriting.

We always recommend consulting with an occupational therapist if you have any concerns about the efficiency of your child’s handwriting. They are skilled in identifying the exact causes and best steps to follow.

If you would like to visit us or simply have a question, please call 01572 737100.

Dyspraxia shop to help people with dyspraxia, DCD, Dysgraphia and dyslexia
Dyspraxia shop to help people with Dyspraxia, DCD, Dysgraphia and Dyslexia.

What is the best handwriting pencil for my child to learn to write with?

Without doubt the best pencil for a child to learn to write with is the Yoropen mini-pencil.

The best handwriting pencil for children learning to write - the Yoropen Mini Pencil
The best handwriting pencil for children learning to write – the Yoropen Mini Pencil

Why?

  • The ‘Z’ neck design allows your child to see the letters much more clearly as they write, aiding letter formation, visual memory of the letter formation and improvement to their posture whilst writing. (Many children hold their heads at an angle when writing trying to see how, what and where they are writing which twists their backs and often leads to one eye becoming stronger than another due to the angle of the eyes when the head is held at such an angle. This can have longer term implications on their whole visual system)
  • Dyslexic children in particular, will benefit greatly from the extra visual field these pencils give them as they get a better reinforcement of the letter formation as they write, boosting their visual memory.
  • It is specifically designed for children aged between 3-8.
  • The pencil is shorter than a standard pencil by almost 6cm reflecting the smaller size of children’s hands at this age. Imagine writing with a pencil 1 and a half times longer than the one you currently use? The shorter pencil can have immediate benefits to the quality of your child’s handwriting. It gives them far better control.

    The difference in size between the Yoropen mini-pencil (ages 3-8) and the larger Yoropen Pencil (ages 8+)
    The difference in size between the Yoropen mini-pencil (ages 3-8) and the larger Yoropen Pencil (ages 8+)
  • The Yoropen provides a very comfortable tripod grip, encouraging the tripod grip from a very early age.
  • The gap between the pencil tip on the Yoropen Mini-Pencil and the Yoropen Pencil for ages 8+ is also shorter keeping your child’s fingers at the perfect height above the paper. This is hugely important as often children will raise their wrists from the surface when they write leading to vastly reduced pencil control.

    How the tip to grip distance is altered on the Yoropen Mini Pencil compared to the larger Yoropen Pencil to fit smaller hands perfectly.
    How the tip to grip distance is altered on the Yoropen Mini Pencil compared to the larger Yoropen Pencil to fit small hands perfectly.
  • Each pencil has 2B lead requiring less effort to write making the early years of writing much more pleasurable
  • The extra field of vision provided by the ‘z’ neck helps your child to keep their writing on the line.
  • The finger support system requires far less pressure to grip the pen reducing writing strain and allowing more focus on handwriting, spelling and content. The comfort grip neck on the pencil holds your grip firmly in place preventing your child’s hand from sliding down towards the nib.
  • The tripod grip rotates to accommodate your child’s preferred writing position. Ideal for left and right handers.
  • Yoropen provide a natural pen and pencil progression path onto the Yoropen HB pencil and the Yoropen Superior ballpoint pen range. Ideal from ages 6-8+ through to adult.
  • It’s no wonder that the Yoropen is the number 1 choice for children with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and any child with difficulties controlling a pencil.
  • Affordable at a little over £2 per mini-pencil, is really long-lasting requiring future purchases year after year of a refill pack costing just 99p – cheaper than a good quality pencil.
  • If you are reading this article it is because you take your child’s handwriting seriously. We also have a children’s ergonomic handwriting pack to help you find the perfect pencil to encourage the tripod grip from the earliest years.
  • Dyspraxia pencil pack ages 3-8, blue barrels
    Children’s ergonomic pencil pack for learning to write and encouraging the tripod grip. Blue and pink variances available.

Not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts and risk of choking.

NB. If you can’t stretch to a Yoropen, I would advise you to cut down one of your children’s pencils by around 6cm and witness the effect. I have had children who refuse to pass the pencil back to me because it suits them so well after they have struggled for years with a standard pencil. If you do this and it works for you please ‘like’ the article on Facebook so that more parents and children will be able to come across it on a google search. Thanks

All about the Evo.pen – writing support for dyspraxia and arthritis

evopenEverything you need to know about the Evo.Pen…   (Available now exclusively in the UK at www.fantasticdyspraxic.co.uk)

Extremely comfortable and portable, the Evo.pen (evo-lutionary) is contoured to fit in the natural closing grip of the hand. The ergonomic shape is ideal for people with different kinds of grasping problems and relieves the hand ache and writing endurance problems caused by Dyspraxia, Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, chronic hand pain and writer’s cramp. The Evo.pen is lightweight, slips easily into a pocket and is suitable for left and right handers. The pen is retractable to prevent it from drying out and very simple to refill.
Prolific Dyspraxia author, therapist and lecturer, Lois Addy, highlighted the Evo.pen in her book titled ‘How to…increase the potential of students with DCD (Dyspraxia) in secondary school.’
evopenhanddrawing
The Evo.pen has been commended by the American Arthritis Foundation for ease of use and is recommended by hand, physical, and occupational therapists. Called the “natural remedy”, the Evo.pen imitates the natural gripping posture, resulting in pain free writing.

  • evo.pen-contoured-illustrationReduce writing discomfort
  • Compact and convenient
  • Refillable
  • Occupational and Physical Therapists recommend it
The first writing instrument to receive an “ease of use” commendation from the Arthritis Foundation.

“An evaluation of this product by a panel of health-care professionals, consumers and foundation staff found this wide-grip pen fits snugly in the palm of the hand and is contoured to the shape of the fingers, which makes it easier to use.”

evo-pen-refill-packReplacement cartridge packs are available from www.fantasticdyspraxic.co.uk

evo-pen-cartridge-instructions

The acclaimed Mary Benbow, writes, “Of all the writing devices currently on the market, I believe the Evo.pen is the most unique, affordable and most intelligently designed for adaptive use. The Evo.pen approaches the task of writing with a fresh concept. Tools are extensions of the human hand. When the hand is compromised, some way must be found to compensate for the deficit. The imaginative Evo.pen device manages this more efficiently than any other product I have found…”

mary-benbow-reccommendation-evo-pen

 

 

 

 

 

 

evo-pen-twin-packValue evo.pen twin packs are also available at www.fantasticdyspraxic.co.uk

Suitable for ages 6+ through to Adult

 

Help with handwriting – 10 ways to help

Writing well  requires well developed fine motor skills. There are a range of small muscles in the hands, arms and shoulders that need to be exercised to support effective handwriting. Thankfully these skills usually get better with practise.

Try some of the activities below to help your child develop the accuracy, balance and eye-hand coordination needed to perform good handwriting.  Many of these activities were just too difficult for my son  when he was young, if you are experiencing the same things it might be worth getting further advice from a health visitor or occupational therapist.

10 activities to improve handwriting:

1. Playdoh is useful for strengthening the small muscles required for handwriting. Roll small balls of playdoh between the thumb and first two fingers only – these are the handwriting tripod fingers and will provide excellent strengthening and coordination. They make a ‘kids soft air drying Fimo’ now so they can keep their creations. You could make a string of beads to wear or counting beads on a string so there is more purpose in the activity. We also made little pots, using the three tripod fingers: Roll Playdoh into a ball and squash it a bit, then pinch the edges upwards to form the walls of your pot. Playdoh play was an early red flag I had as a parent. My son just couldn’t manipulate it, just didn’t have the strength. If this is the case with your child you can buy softer doughs now, increasing the dough resistance as your child’s muscles strengthen. Pull, stretch and squeeze the dough to strengthen finger muscles.

2.  Use window crayons as it really strengthens the shoulder muscles and hand muscles. It’s great fun too. Wiping them clean is also a winning exercise! Washing mum’s car is a win-win exercise too – “wipe on, wipe off,”the famous phrase from Karate Kid!

3. Screwing up paper. Practise tearing paper into quarters and then, with one hand only, screw the quarter into a ball in the palm of your hand using all the fingers to squash it into a ball. You may need to make it easier with tissue paper or tissues before using thicker paper. You can add faces or googly eyes to the balls you make so it doesn’t get too serious.

Another idea is to make tissue paper ball pictures using the playdoh tripod finger rolling technique. Start with a small shape like a star, moon or heart that can be filled in easily with 15 or so tissue paper balls.

3. Play with Meccano, Lego, threading, small cars, minature animals etc. You don’t have to buy everything; nuts and bolts, screw top lids on toothpaste tubes, small bottles; all great for tripod finger grip strengthening. Make macaroni dried pasta necklaces to encourage finger manipulation skills and hand-eye coordination practise.

4. Sponge transporter – get two bowls and fill one with water. Ask your child to dip their sponge into the bowl of water and then squeeze the water-filled sponge out into the empty bowl. Repeat this until all the water has gone from the original bowl. Count how many times and see if it gets better over time. This should really strengthen the hands and forearm.

5. Sort collections of tiny things: Encourage your child to sort button colours or loose change into 1p’s, 2p’s, 5p’s etc.

6. Play games with small pieces, card games, tweezer games  like Operation, or make your own tweezer games. Under adult supervision obviously, with the small parts.

7. Do jigsaws – another red flag for me. Many dyspraxics cannot motor plan well with jigsaws. Start off really simple and slowly progress to more pieces, keeping it successful.

8. Baking, rolling out biscuits, mixing, kneading the dough are all great handwriting muscle builders.

9. Daily crafting: A great activity for the tripod grip is dot painting with cotton buds. Use crayons, scissors, paints, finger paints, stickering, tearing paper. Use scratch off foil books with the wooden pointed scratch-off sticks (Klutz do some good ones), encouraging the child to pivot their wrist on the bone at the base of their hand.

10. Rainbow drawing (more like arcs than rainbows but you will get the idea) – hold arm and wrist straight pivoting the arm at the elbow, move back and forward, changing the colours every now and again to maintain interest. Don’t press down too much, ask them for a feint rainbow in the distance. Get them to turn their paper with their other arm to create a Catherine Wheel type effect on the paper (great for bonfire night!). This will take them some time to master… Now do similar rainbow arcs where only the wrist pivots back and forth, resting on the bone at the base of the hand, lots of them if you can.  Then once this is okay draw a row of circles, one clockwise, one anti-clockwise and repeat the pattern along. Then, with a different colour, go over the circles in the same way, tracing them as exactly as you can. Keep repeating in different colours or the same colour if the child is happy to. This gets the child use to the push and pull of writing. Remember to keep the pressure light.

11. Doing simple mazes encourages the side to side, up and down , push and pull movements required for handwriting.

Also, take advantage of snowy or muddy days! Making snowballs, or, if there is no snow – mud cakes or mud balls that can be thrown to hit a target in the garden – great fun!

Every child will acquire the skills needed for handwriting at different times. The more your child uses their fingers the sooner they are likely to achieve this.

Encourage the tripod grip from an early age, using a triangular barrelled pencil or crayon grip will help your child to establish this. There are some great chunky triangular grips for pencils and crayons to help in the early stages. Try to move away from the chunky crayons once they have mastered the grip onto the Faber Castell thinner triangular barrelled pencil crayons and colouring pens. Staying with the chunky grip for too long restricts some of the movement in the hand and fingers. It’s like an adult trying to write with a tube of smarties, far less movement is possible. Do stick with triangular barrelled pens and pencils though as this makes pencil grip so much more comfortable.

Faber Castell pack of 12 jumbo colour GRIP crayons
Jumbo triangular grip handwriting crayons

In the early stages using a silicone pencil ‘grip’ can also give the young child a feel for how to hold the pencil (don’t allow them to get too used to it that they become dependent upon it though). You are just trying to encourage a natural tripod grip at this stage. Offer the grip every other day so they know they can cope with alternatives.

Want to make your own grip? You could try another trick of mine which is to roll a blue-tack strip around the grip of the pencil. The child then pincers the index finger and thumb in an ‘ok’ type sign around the blue tack grip of the pen and then brings the middle finger in under the pen for support. Blue tack is quite tacky so the fingers will stick and the fingers will mould their own grip points. Plasticine might do the same thing although it doesn’t stick as well to the pen. Some people will use fimo air drying clay to mould their own grip around the pencil, you’d need to glue it onto the shaft to make it stay. It’s not terribly soft once it’s dry but at least it will add some variety to your pencil grip collection!

Posture is very important to achieving good handwriting. Feet flat on the ground (use telephone directories if need be to achieve this), knees at 90 degrees and body sitting upright. Strong tummy muscles influence the body’s posture. The  body should be turned very slightly  to the left for righties and to the right for lefties. The paper should also be positioned carefully – righties should have their paper turned so that the bottom left hand corner points to their tummy button, and lefties should have their paper turned so that the bottom right corner of the paper points to their tummy button. The non writing hand should be used actively in paper orientation, something that often gets ignored. It’s not just a paper weight!

The old Victorian writing desks were perfect for our children, now we have writing slopes which provide the 20 degree writing angle. Slopes support the correct body posture, reduce visual stress and provide a more ergonomic handwriting position.

If handwriting is still concerning you as your child gets older, you should have a quick chat with the teacher or consult an occupational therapist. There are some great handwriting programmes you can try with their support: ‘Write from the Start’ for younger children  and ‘Speed Up!’ For older children. There’s an older programme that OT’s like too, called ‘Handwriting Without Tears’; there are some good ideas in this programme – I especially like the one where you write the letter on the chalkboard, wipe it off with a small square sponge, following the writing path of the letter and then dry it off with a tiny cloth along the writing path of the letter – it really reinforces the way the letter is written in a novel way.

More on this topic soon…

How to choose the correct pencil grip

How to choose the correct pencil grip.

We have over 12 different pencil grips in our shop and without seeing you and how you grip a pencil it is extremely difficult to recommend the right one. The pencil you choose to write with can also make a difference to the way the grip performs. You might try a shorter pencil too as that can sometimes make a difference.

how-to-choose-the-right-pencil-grip-first-time

how-to-choose-the-correct-pencil-gripI would suggest purchasing the selection pack of mixed grips that we stock (we’ve priced it to make it the cheapest way to sample all the grips). This will enable you to find the ones that suit you best so that you can buy them in the larger value bags with confidence.

The only two grips not included in the pack are the Grotto grip and the 2-in-1 eraser grip, we were trying to keep the sampler pack costs down hence their exclusion. If the triangular grip in the sampler pack  suits you then the 2-in-1 eraser grip will also suit you. If the cross-guard ultra grip from the pack suits you then the grotto grip will also, it has a very slightly different angle to it so might be worth a try. The grotto grip has wider wings to stop your fingers from sliding down and across the pencil and is very good for dyspraxics with a weak grip.

Pencil grip selection pack
Our pencil grip selection pack

Thumb wrapping?

Try the Grotto Grip , Cross-Guard Ultra Grip or C.L.A.W. grip when the pencil is held with the thumb wrapped tightly over the index finger or tucked under, the thumb wrapping limits efficient movements of the thumb and tends to fatigue the muscles in the forearm. Each of these grips will prevent the thumb and index fingers from wrapping over the top. I would also purchase a Twist ‘n Write pencil as it is fantastic at correcting thumb wrap. We have just introduced a NEW grip pack just for thumb wrappers and grip sliders.

Pencil grip pack stops thumb wrapping and grip slipping and includes the Grotto Pencil Grip, The Cross-Guard Ultra Pencil Grip and the CLAW pencil grip.
Pencil grip pack stops thumb wrapping and grip slipping and includes the Grotto Pencil Grip, The Cross-Guard Ultra Pencil Grip and the CLAW pencil grip.

Fingers sliding down the pencil resulting in a death-grip?

Again, I really like the Grotto Grip , Cross-Guard Ultra Grip and CLAW grip for correcting these difficulties.

White finger tips from holding too tightly?

Sometimes this can be easily corrected simply by using the foam Ridged comfort pencil grip (purple in the grip pack picture), the Standard triangular pencil grip (air force blue in the grip pack picture) or the Comfort pencil grip (dark blue in the grip pack picture). They will offer light grip support that may make all the difference whilst your child’s grip strength continues to develop.

Closed web space?

This is the gap between the thumb and index finger where the web is. If this is closed tightly whilst gripping a pencil it will lead to muscle fatigue. I like the large Ultra Pencil Grip for this (the yellow grip photographed in our grip selection pack). If your child has a closed web space and wraps their thumb over the top of the pencil then I would go with the Grotto Grip and Cross-Guard Ultra Grip. I would also buy a Twist ‘n Write pencil as it is fantastic at correcting thumb wrap problems and will open up the web space at the same time.

Can’t hold onto a pencil very well at all?

Try the CLAW pencil grip as this really secures the fingers around the pencil. Again, the Twist ‘n Write pencil will allow the child to write with a push whilst their finger and hand strength develops. Definitely seek medical advice if you haven’t done so already.

The Penagain Twist 'N Write Pencils are perfect for correcting an inefficient pencil grip, thumb wrap grip, quadrupod grip and for supporting low muscle tone - related handwriting difficulties.
The Penagain Twist ‘N Write Pencils are perfect for correcting an inefficient pencil grip, thumb wrap grip, quadrupod grip and for supporting low muscle tone – related handwriting difficulties.

If you are purchasing a pencil grip you should also purchase some Crayon Rocks® – why?

Crayon Rocks® are proven to strengthen the tripod grip muscles. They can only be held in a tripod grip and are a huge personal favourite of mine. Used a few minutes every day in wide sweeping strokes, you’ll be amazed how quickly your childs’ grip improves. The end goal for grips and supports is for your child to be able to pick up any pen or pencil to write with. You have to strengthen the muscles in the hands to achieve this, pencil grips will definitely do this, Crayon Rocks® will get you there even faster alongside regular use of your pencil grip.

Crayon Rocks® are the best crayon you can buy to encourage the tripod grip in your child's early handwriting development
Crayon Rocks® really are the best crayon you can buy to encourage the tripod grip in your child’s early handwriting development

Pencil Grips are not a solution for everyone. They encourage and support the correct tripod grip and often make writing more comfortable. Other stand-alone pens and pencils also do this including the Twist ‘n write pencil, the Penagain and the Evo.pen – all are incredibly comfortable and effective. Many dyspraxics can struggle with a tripod grip and require a writing tool to achieve legible handwriting, the best of these include the Yoropen pens and pencils, the RinG-Pen and RinG-Pen Ultra. Some may have such poor proprioception that they require the use of a weighted pen or pencil for sensory feedback. If none of the supports seem to help then we would strongly advise you to consult an Occupational Therapist who will assess the writing difficulty professionally.

We understand handwriting can cause huge anxieties, if you are really not sure you can come along and try everything we have by arrangement, just email us: fantasticdys@aol.com or call 01572 737100 and we are sure we will find a time that works.

Top tip: If the grip is to be used by a child, make a scratch line where the grip should be, just in case the grip becomes a ‘fiddle fidget’ and moves, the child can then see clearly where it should go back to. You could use stickers for this as well.

The correct writing position: 

The pencil should be held about 2.5 to 3 cm from the writing tip, so that there is control over the movement. Slightly lower for tiny hands.

Left handed pencil grip pack. Pack of 6 of the most popular pencil grips for left handers.
Left handed pencil grip pack. Pack of 6 of the most popular pencil grips for left handers.

Do you or your child grip the pencil with 4 fingers or more, rather than the traditional 3 used in a dynamic tripod pencil grip?

Please take a peek at our blog on the quad grip, what is it, and should I correct it?

Quadrupod pencil grip and grasp pack. For children and adults with an inefficient quadrupod pencil grip seeking to re-train to a more dynamic tripod pencil grip. Suitable for left and right handers. Includes crayon rocks, penagain twist 'n write pencil, faber castell grip pencil with eraser and 6 of the best tripod pencil grips.
Quadrupod pencil grip and grasp pack. For children and adults with an inefficient quadrupod pencil grip seeking to re-train to a more dynamic tripod pencil grip. Suitable for left and right handers. Includes crayon rocks, penagain twist ‘n write pencil, faber castell grip pencil with eraser and 6 of the best tripod pencil grips.