Pencil grips are always a pretty personal purchase, but I have to say we love these Jumbo Pencil Grips. I like that the jumbo not only helps keep their fingers positioned correctly, but that the larger "bulb" helps maintain a large, relaxed grip rather than "the claw."
They do come in a smaller size if you prefer. I do recommend the "six pack" because it seems we can't have too many pencils floating around the house! I find that after using these during handwriting practice and during "school" the boys also hold a regular writing utensil correctly without one. They are more comfortable on these and because writing can be tiring and sometimes even painful for young boys, I want to make them as comfortable as possible.
The boys have their Handwriting Without Tears work this week (above Me Too is working with the wood pieces for capital letters). My intention was for Kal-El to do a couple of pages in the "first grade" book every week throughout the year and for Me Too to do the same in the Kindergarten workbook. Me Too did the lowercase portion of the kindergarten book alongside Kal-El last year. I figured when he finished the capital section I would just get him another one because he could use the extra practice.
I have a rule that when I decide it is time to do HWT, we have to do one page before we stop but they may do more if they wish. I learned early on (first year of primary) that it is not good to attempt to string-out work that they are enthusiastic about. More than once I would "stop them" from working on something they enjoy so they wouldn't "use it up" all in one day only to have them lose interest in it in a few days or a few weeks. I guess this is what Montessori means by sensitive periods. So now, if they like something and want to do it for three hours I let them have at it. It is a joy to do three hours of work in one day when they are excited about what they are doing. It is not fun to do the same three hours of work stretched out over months when they don't want to do it.
In the past three days Me Too completed the entire capitals section of his book and Kal-El is on page 28 of the first grade book. They do pages and pages during "school" and they beg to pull it out in their free time.
Fine with me! The more practice they do now, the more comfortable they will be writing. The more comfortable they are writing, the more writing they will do. The more writing they do the better they will write.
I try to avoid "bookwork" as much as possible anyway. The sooner they finish this, the sooner it is off of our plate. I use the Handwriting Without Tears to ensure that there are indeed times that I sit down with them and specifically pay attention to how they are holding a pencil, what strokes they use to form letters, and what order they make the strokes. They do a lot of writing "during school" but often while I'm distracted while working with the other brother. Part of the reason HWT works so well for us it that it requires very few repetitions but each repetition is as perfect as you can make it. Since they are doing this with me for tips and diagnosis, that is perfect for us.
I think that when Kal-El finishes this HWT book I will replace it with The Complete Writer: Level 1 Workbook for Writing with Ease (narration, copywork, and dictation). Montessori classrooms usually incorporate these elements organically as the students record work in their journals or make booklets. I *hope* to do it mostly that way. But, as you might remember, this is one of the areas I am nervous that I will neglect. I bought Writing with Ease as a back-up and will do a page in it on only the weeks that Kal-El doesn't seem to get those things done in conjunction with his other work. I was worried that HWT and Writing with Ease would be too much bookwork at the same time. Now I see that if I wait a week to start Writing with Ease Kal-El probably will be done with HWT. Me Too will do the kindergarten book a second time. I'll just change the color of the cover.