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A pencil is a pencil is a pencil!!!!!
No! No! No! How many of us have ever paid attention to the type of pencils our kids are using when they started out to write????
Well I am a good mom, as I would always make sure the pencils were all sharpened and placed in the pencil box with an eraser and color pencils/ crayons.
But just a month back (June 2009) I realized that with respect to the pencils I was NOT a good mom !
Cuz, just placing sharpened pencils doesn’t make you a good pencil mom .
Since my son is very bright, I never paid much attention while he breezed through the preparatory class, which is very much a revision of the playschool learning. But when he reached STD 1 in St Mary’s life suddenly changes for both him and me!
No more casually sharpened pencils.
I found he definitely has my genes when it came to writing, which is quite illegible. Now I do know the importance of good handwriting now, so I started making him write every day a passage or cursive alphabets on three lined notebooks.
I found he was pressing the pencil too hard, leaving impressions on 2 sheets below! Also when he erased the marks, he would invariably tear off the sheet!
Now having an analytically gifted mind, I used it to first observe, collect related data and then analyze them.
So here are my observations which are the most important part of any analysis.
1: My son would hold the pencil too tight, which automatically led to applying too much pressure on the paper while writing. (There is a psychology of why some kids hold pencils very tightly) .
2: If the pencil has rounded smooth surface, his grip tightened more to prevent pencil from slipping.
3: With a few pencils he would write little better!
4: The fourth observation was that he was nearly lying on the sheet.
5: With a few erasers, he managed to tear off the sheets better.
6: If the pencil was well sharpened, he managed to tear off the sheet.
Now I did a bit of search on the net. Read up data available on the sites which were related to pencils of those brands that we were using. I bought all different brands and types of pencils and used them myself.
The analysis and its result were as follows:
1: Some kids grip pencils very tightly, some very lightly, some are very fidgety. http://specialchildren.about.com/od/schoolstrategies/bb/pencil.htm
2: The pencils with triangular ridges are the best for kids, as they help maintain their grip.
3: There are different grades when it comes to the lead of the pencil.
- A good pencil should allow smooth flow on the paper. It should allow the tip of the pencil to glide on the paper. The writing should be dark and should not smudge if rubbed by fingers or palm.
- All pencils have some grading marked on them.
- The ‘H’ stands for HARDNESS of the lead. Harder the lead, lighter the writing! And hard lead need more pressure to write. On one extreme is 9H (hardest lead), which is good for tracing and outlining very light marks. If pressed hard the tip does not break but the paper will see the holes: p
- B stands for BLACK. Blacker a lead, the darker it will write. The extreme end is 9B which is used for artists for sketching instead of charcoal. The ‘lead’ becomes softer with higher B.
(Check this site http://www.polykarbon.com/tutorials/materials/pencils.htm)
Obviously, the middle path should be taken as any wise one would do. But, not all brands seem to be following the rule. If you pick up HB pencil of all known brands, you’ll find they all are different. Why??? Maybe cuz the lead and the wood used comes from different sources. But then who follows standards in our country..!
A few kids chew their pencils, or keep losing them! Well the only solution is keep a stack at home of cheaper pencils.
Then a few kids want to play with their pencil. These kids need something on top of the pencil which will keep their attention to the pencil. Such pencils take care of the fine motor skills. http://www.southpawenterprises.com/Finger-Fidget-Pencils-P342.aspx
Some kids hold the pencil very lightly; hence the writing is also very light, at times invisible. These kids might have lesser control / coordination which is very natural at early stages. If the mother is aware, she can use weighted pencils which will easily correct the child’s writing problem. http://www.southpawenterprises.com/Weighted-Pencil-Set-P256.aspx
There are a few kids who cannot grip the pencil properly. Again this problem will correct if taken care of early, instead of chiding the child. There are pencil grips that can be used to give a good grip. Also triangular pencils are best for grips. http://www.otideas.com/Items/PencilGrips2.htm http://www.southpawenterprises.com/Grotto-Grips-P713.aspx
SO for kids like mine who press their pencils very hard on the paper, use lead that is soft and dark. May be the pencil which is darker than HB. They can be B or 2B grades. http://www.drawyourworld.com/Catalog/HTML/penciltri.html
I found that the best pencil was OLE-Grip Super Dark Pencil from Faber Castell. (Used by DPS)
The second was Apsara Gold for executives HB bonded lead.
The third was Natraj * 621* HB * Bonded Lead
The fourth was Navneet Yellow
The fifth was Camlin Black HB
The sixth was Natraj *378* Bonded Lead HB
The worst was Norica HB. It wrote like a pin scratching the paper.
Always sharpen both ends of the pencil, it will save time and space.
Pencils given as return gifts, souvenirs from conferences, hotels should never be given to the kids without making sure of their quality. I have found you can sharpen them till you have all the patience! A few I have wondered how they manage to have broken lead all through and through the pencil! I actually got so fed up sharpening it that I chopped the pencil tip to bottom and found it contained only broken lead !!!!! And there was no brand name written on it, just Le Meridian …..
4: To take care of the distance between the eyes and the notebook, make a rule of 1 foot distance. Your child can measure this distance by placing his elbow on the desk and fingers near his eyes.
I have used various Erasers to erase hard pressed writings.
a) A good eraser does not fold or bend easily.
b) Also good erasers do not crumble off on the sheet when used.
c) Soft erasers which can be easily bent or twisted, do not erase completely, leaving light pencil marks.
d) The colorful and scented ones are to be thrown away, as they are hard, leave blackish residue when used as compared to white erasers. They have less gliding factor which leads to too much of friction and hence tears the sheet off.
e) Never depend on the tiny erasers on the pencil tips. They will only make a sad ending of your writing.
Best Erasers are of brands Apsara and Natraj . Staedtler Mars Plastic follows. http://www.staedtler.com/Mars_plastic_gb.Staedtler
Good sharpener means good tip. Fancy once which are like part of a toy or cartoons should be avoided. I have found good sharpeners in Apsara. I think they are the best so far I have used. I have a silly mechanical one too which has a tiny handle, but it sucks!
TIP of the Day:
Also after sharpening the pencil, I rub the tip off a bit before handling over to my kid. This ensures that the tip does not tear or snap while writing.
Tip : For children who do not know where to hold the pencil, place a rubber band on the pencil as a guide.
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