Daisy came along for some help when she was in Y4 because she found handwriting difficult.
Writing was hard work for her – she held her pen very tightly and wrapped her thumb around her forefinger so it was not surprising that her hand quickly became tired and uncomfortable when she had been writing for a time. She had to think hard how to join the letters together and often used separate letters when writing at school.
We started on a programme to try to make writing a less stressful activity for Daisy:
1 Adjusting the way she held her pencil
Daisy found it reasonably easy to hold her pencil between her forefinger and thumb with the middle finger placed behind (dynamic tripod). She used this pen hold at home for a week for colouring, doodling, drawing etc. As this was beginning to be automatic she then used the ‘new’ grip for making patterns from letters.
2 Patterns made from letter shapes
Daisy made patterns that graduated from basic loops, arches, and zigzags to repeated individual letters joined in a continuous string, to pairs of letters, also joined. In this way it was possible to practise all the possible combinations of letters. This took away the complications of varied letter shapes, spelling and composition. She was better able to concentrate on particular shapes and joins, to regularise sizing and develop rhythm and confidence in joining while producing something attractive. The patterns were made within outline shapes and some were assembled to make a picture. She used felt-tipped pens that bring colour to the patterns and do not need to be pressed heavily to make a good colour.
3 Transferring the skills to normal writing
Daisy began writing words in her handwriting sessions and gradually fed the improved writing into her normal school work, reinforcing the changed pen grip, reduced pressure, and regularity of size she had experienced in making the patterns.
Daisy came to weekly lessons of 30 minutes during the Spring term 2011 and was diligent in following up the sessions with short practice sessions of 5 -10 minutes at home on about 5 days each week. Her hard work has been rewarded and she now writes with greater confidence, rhythm and speed.