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Need advice -- 1st grader

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Need advice -- 1st grader
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Joined: 15 Aug 2006
Posts: 384
Location: Indiana

Post Need advice -- 1st grader Reply with quote
I have a couple of questions regarding our first grader, Lucas.

1) Lucas has an interesting handwriting grasp. Instead of resting the pencil against the side of the middle finger, he has become accustomed to resting the pencil against his fourth finger. I found the following information on a website about handwriting grasps:

Pencil Grasp Patterns
Functional Grasp Patterns

Tripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.

Quadrupod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb, index finger, and third finger and rests against the side of the fourth finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.
Adaptive tripod or DíNealian grasp : The pencil is held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil. The pencil rests against the side of the third finger near its end.

It appears from reading this, that Lucas' grasp is a Quadrupod grasp with open web space, and it is a functional grasp pattern, which I assume means that it is acceptable. Any advice on this?

Everytime I correct him and try to get him to rest the pencil against his middle finger, he complains and says it is very uncomfortable. His penmanship is actually very neat using his more "comfortable" grasp.

2) He still has trouble with reading some words and not only has trouble with "flipping" some common letters, such as b and d, but has been known to flip entire words. Yesterday, he read "this" as "shot." Is this common in the first grade? None of my other children had this problem.

3) He is a child with some other sensory issues, and is highly distractable. I pretty much have to be sitting next to him the entire day to get him to finish his papers, or he wanders off or just doesn't do any of it. It is becoming very frustrating for both him and me. Lots of tears. Math takes FOREVER, reading is painful. It is not that he is not intelligent; it is a focus and maturity issue, I think. He has always had trouble concentrating.

Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:08 am View user's profile Send private message
Dianne Muth

Joined: 11 Aug 2006
Posts: 108

Post Reply with quote
It is not unusual for first graders to resist holding the pencil correctly; they sometimes form the poor habit during pre-school years. Sometimes it helps to use a gripper that can be found in educational stores. The problem with holding it incorrectly is that the hand gets tired too quickly and they don't want to write. Some of his challenges are quite common for first graders. Lack of focus, etc. Sometimes a rewards chart helps. Give a sticker for every day he stays on task and when achieves a stated goal, he gets a reward--something he will really look forward to. Also, if he is using MCP Math and you know he understands the concept, have him do the odds or evens. The most important thing at this stage is memorization of facts.

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss it further.

Dianne Muth
Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:33 am View user's profile Send private message
Melissa Buyarski

Joined: 20 Oct 2008
Posts: 6

Post Reply with quote
I actually hold my pens/pencils the same way, so it's actually reassuring for me to hear that it's an "acceptable" method. If his handwriting is legible and he is content to write, I wouldn't worry too much.

Regarding the reading and "flipping" of letters and words, this is actually a typical development for some first graders. If he were to be still doing it throughout second and third grade, then it could be a cause for concern. It may be helpful for him to run his finger from left to right under the words as he's reading them, to help him focus on what order the sounds are in.

I agree with Dianne with the incentive approach to increasing his staying on-task. Another approach would be to make it a game--challenge him to complete a task without you there. Tell him, "Let's see if you can answer 5 math problems while I go check the mail." Hopefully the challenge acts as a motivator and you can begin upping the requirement. "Now I bet you can answer 10 questions while I make lunch," etc. By breaking the task down into smaller components, it makes it seem more manageable to him and he can gain more independence in the process

Melissa Buyarski
Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:17 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 15 Aug 2006
Posts: 384
Location: Indiana

Post Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice. Since he is having so many concentration issues, I have decided to lie low on the pencil grasp problem right now because it is just too much to tackle all at one time.

He is doing a little better. I think the MCP Math book moves ahead very quickly with addition/subtraction facts. I never remember doing sums greater than 10 that early in 1st grade. So I have been working with him on learning some mental reminders to memorize the facts and using pennies as manipulatives to help him visualize it. I also have been helping to realize that if he has done 9+6=15 on a page, if 6+9 appears on the same page he doesn't have to re-invent the wheel -- he can look to the other problem for the answer. The key is memorizing the facts, not doing a million problems.

He is actually doing better with the reading stories from CNR since he has started having to answer the comprehension questions.

I am still working with him a great deal, but I think I have some ideas now about how to help him. I'll let you know if I ever get around to correcting his pencil grasp!

Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:40 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 07 Mar 2007
Posts: 101

Post math tip Reply with quote
I also found that the MCP moved too quickly for 2 of my children and it was getting frustrating for them (and me!). We switched to Rod and Staff and they are doing much better and learning their facts. It moves much more slowly, but from looking at the scope and sequence, it seems that they will be where they need to be when all is said and done. They really drill the math facts and use fact families to teach it, so they learn early on how the numbers are related (ie: 11-9-2 are all in one family, so 9+2 is the same as 2+9, etc). There are a lot of problems, so if your child gets the concept, you can skip (like was suggested w/ the MCP). They also offer blacklines to copy as worksheets for reinforcement...there are many visuals and it has really helped mine learn. There is also constant review throughout, so they don't forget (something else we struggled w/ using the MCP), and the teacher manual [which is very inexpensive] gives helpful suggestions on teaching the concept...just another thought.

One of my children (also a boy) holds his pencil the same way...nice to know that is normal! He says the same thing...that he can't write if he holds it the traditional way.

We have also had many difficulties w/ the focusing problem. One thing I do is have them take frequent breaks...get up, get a drink, do some jumping jacks, then back to work. I try to do activities that involve motion whenever possible (ie: when doing phonics drills, have them jump up when they hear the sound you are looking for), so that they can get out some energy before doing the things that require them to be more focused and still. Diet is also something to we stay away from high sugar things in the mornings. And (thanks to Dianne's suggestion), we tried some caffeine (1/2 caf coffee), which really has seemed to help (provides that bit of inner stimulation that perhaps was needed). I also try to schedule their subjects carefully...not putting back to back 2 subjects that require a lot of focus, having them do the harder ones first thing in the morning or first thing after snack, etc. Those things, coupled with a blend of positive reinforcement (and discipline when needed) have really seemed to help...and much praying as well!! Hang in there.

God bless,
Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:45 pm View user's profile Send private message
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