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Help! My 5yo is struggling with using a pencil.
by Ankles
December 17, 2013 at 10:56 PM

My oldest just turned 5 last month. We have been "officially" homeschooling for about a year now. Since the beginning he has loved worksheets/workbooks. He was always asking for more to do - until about three, four weeks ago. All of a sudden he has hated doing anything that requires the use of a pencil, crayon, marker, etc. I backed off the worksheets thinking maybe he was getting tired of them. Been doing a lot more "games" and what not. Today I gave him some coloring pages, thinking that he needed to just work on holding a crayon (which he can do properly) scribbling and what not. I left him alone for a few minutes and when I came back he had broken all the crayons in half. When I asked him why he said because he was mad and he couldn't color(nothing to do with coloring inside the lines, that hasn't hit him yet) . It's the same reaction I had been getting to the worksheets. So I'm thinking his "rebellion" is  having to use a writing utensil, its frustrating him for some reason.  I have noticed that his marks are so light that you can barely see them. I'm thinking maybe work on his fine motor skills, strengthen his hand.  Does anyone have any suggestions? 


  • Jinx-Troublex3
    December 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM
    Play doh, climbing at the park, climbing trees,
    Anything that requires grip
    Lacing boards, beading
  • oahoah
    by oahoah
    December 18, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    I have done a lot of "fun" writing with my 2 younger boys who are now 6 & 4, we did (and still do) salt or sand or flour or rice trays where they just use their fingers to trace shapes, letters, etc; dry-erase markers on white board, chalk on chalkboard or sidewalk; we have done play-doh letters.  Perler beads are something my boys have liked doing for the past couple years, pony beads lacing onto shoelaces. I made my own lacing cards with thick cardstock and my paper hole punch and some old shoelaces. I have gotten a lot of great dexterity ideas from Pinterest. For my oldest, who is 9, we bought the rubber grip things for pencils but truthfully they didn't help.  Ease up on the writing issue for now, offer to write for him (I still do this for my oldest at times) but also let him see how much fun writing can be.

  • Ankles
    by Ankles
    December 18, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Thanks for the suggestions 

  • PurpleCupcake
    December 18, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    Honesty, good advice above. 

    But if he needs therapy it should be from professionals. Take him to a doctor.

    Have you tried using really fat pencils and crayons?

  • jen2150
    by jen2150
    December 18, 2013 at 8:31 AM
    I would get pencils and crayons he can't break. Maybe do some painting. I would back off for a coupe of weeks and then re visit it with all the new ideas. Is he having trouble in any other areas?
  • MamaLauri
    December 18, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    There are many ways to learn to write.

    Does he enjoy finger painting? Move from that to sand painting and paint with brush.

    Cut out letters and numbers out of 400 grit sandpaper and have him trace them with his finger.

    One really wonderful multi-sensory activity is: Print out big letters and numbers. Put them in plastic sleeves. Make gingerbread dough. Roll into long rolls. Have him shape the gingerbread rolls to the shape of the letters and numbers. Then bake and decorate and eat. Yum yum!

  • Molimomma
    December 18, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    The other suggestions are spot on. I would add that after that as he gets older, if his writing is still light you can add weight to the pencil by slipping a couple nuts on the pencil sandwiched between a few wraps of a rubber band to hold them in place, which will help him press harder with the pencil so the writing is darker. I would not do that until he has developed the muscles in his hand a little more.

  • bluerooffarm
    December 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Developing hand muscles only does about half of what is needed.  The shoulder muscles are very important!  Get him climbing either on monkey bars or rock walls.  Playing on the rings and "trapeze" style swings.  Any activities that make him support his weight by hanging from his arms.  

  • usmom3
    by usmom3
    December 18, 2013 at 4:53 PM

     I agree with the others, get him doing things that strengthen his grip.

  • Ankles
    by Ankles
    December 18, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Quoting jen2150: I would get pencils and crayons he can't break. Maybe do some painting. I would back off for a coupe of weeks and then re visit it with all the new ideas. Is he having trouble in any other areas?

    No other issues. I like the painting idea. 

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