DYSGRAPHIA is defined as a neurological disorder affecting motor skills. It is often detected in small children when they start learning to write. However, stroke victims can also develop this disorder. Dysgraphia has also been linked with people who have a learning disability.


how to hold a pencil; ergonomic writing

Many students, especially LD students, have a hard time with pencil grip. This could be due to one of several reasons:

  • eye-hand coordination is not fully developed due to neurological causes;

  • sensory issues such as the hardness of the pen or pencil is painful;

  • weak underdeveloped muscles makes gripping the pencil difficult

  • some students just think it is too hard to learn.

A couple of years ago when I started to get arthritis in my hands I found it difficult to write. It wasn't long before I started holding my pen "incorrectly". Since that time, I have taught many of my students a radical new way to hold a pencil.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to see how easy it is to write using this "incorrect" way of holding a pencil. This video will immediately start playing once it is downloaded.

Many teachers will not agree with the way I teach holding the pencil this way.  However, students who do not like to write, may have a sensitivity problem which could lead to the reason why they don't like to hold a pencil.

Sometimes, just changing up the way the student holds the pencil can change the student's attitude towards wanting to write.  Sometimes, a different width of pencil (thin vs thick) can help a student who is reluctant to write.


Penmanship is the art of handwriting. Handwriting usually starts in pre-school when we start teaching children how to form the letters in their name. Sometimes, this happens before the child even learns the alphabet. From the moment a child picks up a crayon, the handwriting process has begun.

For over 100 years, everyone has been taught to hold the pencil the same way. The only thing that has changed in the last 100+ years is the sytle of writing. Some of the styles have been:

  • Spencerian Method was taught from about 1866 through the 1920's. Recently it has gained popularity and is again being taught in charter schools and homeschooling.

  • Zaner-Bloser Script was first introduced in 1888. It has been the most popular writing style. It still has 40% of the market of writing textbooks.

  • The latest writing style is D'Nealian. It was introduced in 1995 and also accounts for 40% of the market of textbook sales.

  • Many homeschoolers and some school districts are using Handwriting without Tears.  I have had several teachers and parents say that they really like this program.  Personally, I have not been able to see why this is so much better than the other programs.


One way to get children, teens and young adults to practice their penmanship is for them to journal.  Journaling is different from practicing penmanship. Practicing penmanship requires the student to rewrite sentences someone else has written. Many students find this boring and tedious.

Journaling allows a student to write about themselves and about things around them.  Journaling also lets a child express his/her emotions on paper.  Journaling prepares a student so that when she is required to write a paper for science class, or history class she will know exactly how to express what she wants to say.

Promptly Journals has several types of journals to choose from.  They have journals specifically for kids called emotions journal.  This journal has writing prompts that will help your child process their emotions.  The emotions journal has illustrations, prompts and some free writing space.  The journal is designed for ages 5 to 18 year olds.

If you have never journaled, then I would suggest the Connections Journal.  This is a 2 person journal usually shared between a parent and one child.  There are prompts to help each other express their feelings as well as their thoughts.  The journal has illustrations that can be colored as well as activities.  This journal promotes confidence and creativity in your child (and maybe in yourself). There is a place for the parent to write something.  He/she passes it off to their child who then also writes something which was prompted in the journal.

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Promptly Journals - Journaling Made Easy!

Journaling is one way not only for your child to practice penmanship but it will strengthen your child's writing.  IF YOU ARE A HOME SCHOOL PARENT, you will have insight into your child's ability to form sentences and coherent thoughts.  HOWEVER, any correction of spelling errors, or grammatical errors should be left for a different time.


PrintNPractice is a great website for FREE downloadable worksheets to practice print and cursive. This site also has great coloring pages that help reinforce a child's small motor control.  

Click here to visit PrintNPractice.com.


Over the years, I have tried to get students to hold their pencil "correctly". After watching many of these students struggle with doing it "my way" or "the teacher's way" or "the correct way", I finally gave up. I felt it was more important that I could actually read what the student wrote instead of a futile attempt to get them to hold their pencil "correctly".

As I have mentioned above, some children just can't hold the pencil the conventional way. When they started holding it like I suggested (see video above), they become much happier "writers".

Please let me know what your child (or you) think of this new writing style. Just fill in the form below. If you can, have your child tell you how it feels for them.

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