Children's Reading Resource | Pre-K - 3rd Grade | Home Reading Helper | Read Charlotte
brought to you by Read Charlotte

Writing Skills

How do I teach my child to hold a pencil?

Try the Pinch and Grip Method to create a proper pencil grasp

  • Aim the pencil: Have your child place the pencil in front of them on the table with the sharp tip of the pencil pointing towards them.
  • Pinch it: Next pick up their pencil with their thumb and index finger.
  • Flip it: Then, gently push the pencil so it flips around and rests on their hand.
  • The thumb is bent and moving, the pencil resting on the joint of the middle finger and index finger which is bent and moveable. The ring and little fingers curl softly into the palm, giving the hand stability. It is okay if they use their thumb and 3 fingers to grasp the pencil, too.
  • You can fold a small paper napkin for your child to hold in the palm of their writing hand to remind them where their fingers should be curled.
  • Use their non-writing hand as “the helper hand” that holds the paper in place while they write.

You should see space in the arch of their hand that looks like an “o”. For children who don’t know where to place their hand on the pencil, you can wrap a small rubber band around the pencil about an inch and a half (1.5 inch) from the tip of the pencil to remind them where to “pinch”.

My child often spells words wrong. Should I be correcting them?

The most important thing for 2nd graders is that they develop a love of writing. A great way to help them is if they have misspelled a word, simply write a dot in pencil under the word or lightly underline the word. This allows THEM to go back to try to respell the word. It’s ok to help them spell a word but try to point out patterns in a word that will help them the next time they spell.

I see you spelled “citys”. That’s great you heard there is an “s” at the end and wrote it. That word has a little trick in it, though. Whenever a word ends with “y”, it turns into “-ies” when its more than one. Like “baby” becomes “babies”. Now your turn – try to spell the word city with an s at the end.

If they want your help for writing a word, help them stretch out the word and ask what letters they hear. This is an important step in their writing journey!

My children’s handwriting is very messy and unreadable. What should we do?

VIDEO: What does 2nd grade writing look like?

While its normal for 2nd graders to still be “polishing” and developing their handwriting, it should be readable. Sometimes children need to strengthen the small muscles in their hands that control their fine motor skills. Let your child play with play dough, squeeze water out of sponges, use scissors to cut paper, crumple up a small piece of paper into a ball using only the writing hand, or use kitchen tongs to squeeze and pick up small objects. Ask the teacher if your child’s handwriting may be an indication that they need more help. There are occupational therapists that can provide therapy to help with handwriting, but the first step would be a referral from the teacher or your pediatrician.

My child cannot copy from the board at school. Is this normal?

For some children this is a very difficult task. First, see if they are having trouble with their vision. It may be time to have their eyes checked by an eye doctor if they cannot see objects more than a few feet away. Although it was difficult for children to write on lined paper in 1st grade, for 2nd grade it becomes an expectation. Ask their teacher what they have observed and if they think your child may need more assistance.

If you do not have a regular eye doctor that you see, stores like Walmart or Target have vision centers that can provide an eye exam.

Vision To Learn

Through the Vision to Learn initiative, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the Mecklenburg County Health Department are collaborating to provide free vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

For more information, visit Vision to Learn.

My child hates coloring and avoids writing or drawing. What should we do?

There may be an underlying cause to your child’s struggle. If the task of writing appears overwhelmingly difficult for your child, despite practice and help from teachers, your child may have a condition that affects handwriting and fine motor skills. Dysgraphia is a brain-based issue and is not the result of your child being lazy. Children experiencing dysgraphia may have difficulty holding a pencil correctly, writing on a line, or composing their ideas to write. Teachers often note that it takes these students longer amounts of time to complete a writing assignment and often only complete a small amount of work. A psychologist can test your child to determine if they have dysgraphia.

How can I find out if my child has dysgraphia?

Finding answers to your concerns will provide relief and allow you to approach helping your child with a renewed sense of hope for their writing and learning. The sooner you can get help and resources for your child, the more success they will begin to experience.

  • Testing through the Public Schools (Free, usually involves a wait time of weeks or months for observation, interventions and setting up evaluation time with school psychologist)

You have a right to ask for an educational evaluation at any time from your public school. If you would like to take more urgent action, contact a local experienced clinical psychologist who can administer a learning disability evaluation. Ask your pediatrician for a recommendation.

  • Private Testing (For a fee, receive immediate results)

You can also have your child privately tested, for a fee, to receive more immediate results. Call your pediatrician to request a recommendation for a psychologist or agency that specializes in screening for dysgraphia and dyslexia.

The Child & Family Development Center

A multidisciplinary therapy practice with experts who assesses and treat a wide range of concerns.

Psychology Today

Browse an extensive directory of testing and evaluation therapists near you.


How can I help my child
improve their writing?

2nd Grade
Writing Skills

Back to Top