An easy activity to set up at half term that will pay huge dividends in the future. Younger children struggle with fluent writing if their pen grip is tense, and older teens struggle with the demands of written exams.

This hand grip exercise needs to begin with a RETRACTABLE PENCIL, which has such a delicate lead that it snaps when too much pressure is put on it, encouraging a lighter touch. I love this set (click link above) as they are brightly coloured and children love them. You could just pick one up from the high street though.

Print up copies of these special pen grip infinity curves.

Arrange your child’s hand on the pencil with index finger on the top pointing towards the pencil-point. The fingers should be relaxed and avoid overly bent knuckles. The grip will feel weak and tricky to write with at first, but this is to be expected.

Your child should place his or her pencil at the start. Although each curve begins with the ‘start here’ part, you should encourage a sweeping many-times-repeated figure of eight. Don’t return to the start each time, but keep the pencil sweeping round and round.

All the time, keep your eye on their pen grip and adjust where necessary. Do explain that this is the whole point of the task, because otherwise it will drift back.

Do this exercise every single day as often as possible. Have a sample on the table in the kitchen, by their bed, and all over the house with the retractible pencil nearby. The more they do this the better – and when they become brilliant at it, simply make the infinity curve smaller and keep on going, until it is the size of everyday handwriting.

To print a smaller version of the curves, print up 2 copies to a page and then 4 copies and so on.

Half term is perfect for this, as the enormity of the school day doesn’t get in the way, and it is pretty undemanding to return to it repeatedly throughout the day.

Praise and reward constantly. From the moment they begin to practise, check their handgrip is correct every single time they pick up a pen or pencil. Laugh about how feeble and rubbish it feels at first and don’t let them give up and return to their bad habits.

Then your child’s hand grip will be fixed.