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Video: correct handwriting grip and positioning for new writers

Handwriting advice: grip and positioning for new writers
Help your child establish great handwriting habits from Reception and KS1 with our expert advice video for the parents of new writers. From the correct pencil grip to paper positioning and posture, the National Handwriting Association's Catherine Elsey explains what to look out for and how to make immediate improvements to help your child.

Does your child hold their pencil correctly? Establish great handwriting habits from Reception and KS1 with our video of handwriting advice for new writers, packed with practical tips and suggestions from Catherine Elsey, Occupational Paediatric Therapist from the National Handwriting Association.

Help your new writer develop good habits

If your child started school already able to write their own name – and maybe a few other words, too – you probably felt pretty proud.

But in fact, Reception teachers generally prefer children to arrive at school with no previous knowledge of writing, other than mark-making and drawing. Why? Because it can be difficult to correct bad habits, such as a poor pencil grasp or incorrect letter formation, once a child has learned them.

So how can you encourage your child to develop good writing habits in Reception and KS1 that will set them up for life?

    • Help your child master the dynamic tripod pencil grasp. Children usually develop this ability somewhere between four and six years of age. They should pinch the pencil between thumb and forefinger at the place where the point meets the shaft, with their middle finger behind for the pencil to rest on. Check out this quick trick for getting the dynamic tripod grasp right every time.
    • The blunt end of your child's pencil should be pointing towards the shoulder of their writing arm – not forwards, sideways or straight up.
    • They should turn their paper so it's angled slightly upwards. This helps the wrist and hand move in the most natural way when writing, and also means your child can see the pencil tip, rather than it being hidden behind their hand.
    • Your child's free hand should be used to steady the paper and bear some of their body weight.
    • If your child is struggling with their pencil grasp or writing position, talk to their teacher about whether a handwriting aid such as a pencil grip or a slanted surface could help.
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