How important is pencil grip?

When do you need to teach the correct pencil grip?

Should I correct my 3 year old’s pencil grip?
I recently received an email from a parent asking if she should be correcting her 3 year old child’s pencil grip. This is what she had to say.

“Hi Kerri,
We have a three year old son that is great at colouring in (keeping within the lines), but he holds his pen in a fist grip with his little finger at the top and his thumb at the bottom. He does this with other objects too. When we try to correct it he doesn’t like it and he goes back to his default position. If we give him crayon stubs he will hold them correctly because there isn’t enough room to hold them the other way, but as soon as he has a regular length pen he goes back to holding it the wrong way. I’d appreciate your thoughts.”

Firstly, it’s really important you understand the basic developmental stages of holding a pencil and not force your child to use a grasp that he/she is not yet ready for.

Moving through the different stages of pencil grasp development is an important part of early childhood development. Each stage of holding a pencil or crayon is dependent on how “steady” the shoulder and arm muscles are.

As your child develops physically, and takes part in lots of fun gross motor activities such as crawling, climbing and pushing, the shoulder and arm muscles will get stronger and steadier, and this should help your child’s pencil grasp to mature as well.

When a child is forced to use a “proper” pencil grasp before the shoulder and arm muscles are ready to support it, you may find fine motor problems emerging, such as holding the pencil in “weird” ways, messy work and even avoidance of drawing and colouring tasks.

So, encourage overall development of their – Gross and Fine motors skills

Gross motor skills by doing activities such as crawling (make sure hands are flat, not arched or raised), swinging on monkey bars, row row your boat, wheel barrows, climbing trees, etc
Fine Motor skills. My favourites are play dough, scissor cutting, tearing paper and colouring using the shading technique.

Usually, given normal play and development opportunities (lots of preparatory skills like cutting etc), by the time your child is 5-6 years old, he/she will have the correct pencil grip needed for handwriting.

Why does Brain Gym work?

Why does Brain Gym work?

How to use 100% of your Brain

New Scientific discoveries about the Brain and what this means for brain functioning. Dr Bruce Lipton says the belief that we only use 10% of our brain is a myth. When science discovered that 10% of our brain is neurons, they relegated the other 90% of glial cells to passive support cells. But new scientific research shows that glial cells are much more important than first thought and that this major component of our brain has been misunderstood.

So, now that we officially have access to 100% of our brains at all times, how do we actually use all of it?

We can become whole brained when we start to think holistically instead of replaying recurrent and habitual patterns that activate the same pathways. When we synchronise both hemispheres we create something Bruce Lipton calls “Super Learning.” This hemi-sync leads to us using 100% of our brain and creates harmony and peace in our body mind.

Get to know your brain and discover new ways to engage and activate your whole brain.Check out this video where Dr Lipton talks about this topic and even mentions Brain Gym and why Brain Gym works.


Not all kids are the same

Brain Gym helps kids grow and achieve.  When they are falling behind it helps them catch up.

Is your child finding things a challenge? Let me assess the physical skills they have to see if there are any gaps. Fill the gaps. Move forward.

Brain Gym Nelson

Click the photo. Completed this questionnaire to see how I can help.

Brain Gym in Schools

Brain Gym

This week I visited the new entrant glass at Nelson Christian Academy to see how they have been getting on with the resources they have from my shop and doing Brain Gym Movements. First we did some Brian Gym movements to the Brian Gym Song (Tessarose Productions). They love the song and we keen to show me how much they have improved.

Noeline Strange (teacher) said she had noticed lots of improvement in the two terms she has been doing Brain Gym with the kids.

Joshua blew me away to day because he was the only one to answer my maths question. This is a big milestone for him. I have also noticed an improvement in the form of his Lazy 8s. (Noeline, 28 August 2017)

Practicing our Lazy 8s

We set up the tables with big pieces of paper so they could practice their Lazy 8s.

Lazy 8’s are used in Brain Gym to help your child:

  • think more clearly
  • relax and calm
  • improve hand-eye co-ordination
  • improve visual tracking (moving you eyes and not your head to see something)
  • increase attention span
  • increase writing flow and speed
  • balance emotions
  • improves memory
  • improve cross laterality (crossing the midline of the body, your belly button, connects the right and left hemisphere)
  • to develop hand dominance (being right or left handed)

This activity is especially useful and beneficial  for children with Dyslexia, ADD, Dyspraxia, Developmental Delay or a Sensory Processing disorders.

Balance board

Develop balance skills with a Balance Board. This one is made of Rimu.

Flip board- Rimu or Pine

Lazy 8

Lazy 8 boards- Rimu or Pine










Brain Gym Nelson online shop

Lazy 8 for writing

You can see in this photo, teachers learning the Lazy 8 technique. This assists children to learn eye tracking, the correct direction and form for letters in the English language and the hand movements needed for writing.

When this is mastered the Brain Gym Alphabet 8 can be used to form each letter.


Kerri Bainbridge

Educational Kinesiologist

5 reasons why your child may not be able to pay attention- Vestibular System

In yesterday’s post I looked at the influence Body Awareness has on a child’s ability to pay attention. We have also looked at the influence of the Lower Brain and Primitive Reflexes. Today I want to look at the Vestibular System.

a balancing boyVestibular Processing

Our vestibular system gives us many automatic functions, such as keeping our balance, staying alert, having good muscle tone, and maintaining a stable visual filed. However, if we have poor vestibular processing it interferes with our ability to stay focused.

For example, it may make it impossible to “sit still and pay attention.” If you don’t understand this then you will be probably thinking that a child who is tapping the foot or making rocking movements is not paying attention. But in fact these movements are helping to “wake up” a sluggish system, whereas sitting still often results in zoning out.

Low muscle tone also makes it difficult to sit in chairs without slouching or slumping. We all know these kids and you hear people say “sit up straight”. The kid is probably thinking “I would if I could” or they are wondering why they are not like the other children and that’s not helpful either.

Our attention is additionally challenged if our visual field is unstable, since words may now actually move around the page as we read and write. And I am not talking about Dyslexia although it is convenient to think of it that way. But not useful.

Poor balance is also a distraction. For example, we may have to expend extra cortical activity just to ensure that we don’t fall off the chair, or we may need to even get up and truly move around (since it’s much easier to balance while moving than while being still). Let your kids move.

Balance Boards are a great way to help kids with balance. Go to My Shop for balance boards.

6 ways to limit technology time so it doesn’t become a problem

Is technology a problem in your household?


Whether it’s the 7-year-old who likes the games on your phone or the 10-year-old who won’t stop playing Minecraft, more and more children are gaming on iPads, smartphones, xbox and computers.

But how much technology time is too much? And once you recognise its a problem, how do you them wean it?

If kids are whining about having to go outside instead of playing on their devices, or if they’re slacking off in school or can’t sit still in a restaurant without an iPad or phone in front of them, there might be a problem.

Here are 6 tricks to break kids of their electronic habits.

1. Limit alone time

With desktop computers, one of the best ways to stop compulsive gamers or you tubers from overdoing it is to keep the family computer in a public place. If you know how much time they are on the computer they will behave better and you will have an idea of what they are exposed to so you can parent them about the content.

Unfortunately, portable devices such as smartphones or tablets are trickier to control. But if kids are playing on a parents’ device, preventing kids from taking devices back to their own room can be a good way to limit game play. And consider whether the child actually needs his or her own device, most younger children don’t.

2. Passwords protection

Kids can unwittingly rack up huge bills on games if they’re allowed to, and though many app makers will work with parents to refund that money, companies usually make those calls on a case-by-case basis.

Passwords should be in place whenever a credit card purchase is a possibility and it’s also important not to share passwords with kids or have passwords they can easily guess.

Ensuring they can only play on your device with your permission and cutting off access to those in-game extra goodies may also help limit their game play.

3. Give a warning

When children are playing a game, it’s best to warn them in advance when it’s time to put the game away to avoid a meltdown.,

I suggest at least 10 minutes before you want them off, let them know their time is running short.

4. You’re the boss

If the early warning doesn’t work, you will have to man up. Parents are still the ones in charge, and if gaming becomes a problem, the obvious course is to restrict access to the iPad or other mobile device or take it away.

You set the rules, make the time and behaviour for technology the same as you would for any other thing in their life that needs limiting (like lollies and TV time).

5. Make them busier

For some kids, games are more than just diversion; they offer a way to deal with stress, fill a hole in their social lives, or simply relieve hours of boredom. Taking away game-playing devices without providing any alternatives is unlikely to work in the long run.

So after restricting game play, make sure to fill that time with another activity. If the child is cut off from their phone, then sign them up for soccer practice three times a week, organise a playdate or take them on a bike ride.

6. Set a good example

This next tip should go without saying: Children learn from their parents. If parents have their eyes on a screen at all times, kids will learn that non-stop viewing of devices is acceptable behaviour. So parents should put their phone or tablet down during meals or when spending time playing with children.

Parents should also take a hard look at their dependence on mobile devices. Many parents slip a mobile device into their children’s hands to get some downtime without a child tugging their leg, or to get through a meal in a restaurant without flying food. That’s okay in moderation, but kids eventually need to learn how to behave without these crutches.

Letting go of the reliance on the iPad babysitter will pay dividends down the line, even if it leads to a few meltdowns.


Kerri Bainbridge

Educational Kinesiologist

Brain Gym Nelson

Modern Learning Environments- good or bad for your child’s learning?

What experience do you have of the Modern Learning environment at your child’s school?

Some like it and some don’t.

Those who advocate for the modern learning environment say:

  • they encourage student lead learning, better social interaction and collaboration amongst students.
  • They allow teachers to work in more innovative ways. Teaching to their strengths. Collaboration is a focus for children and teachers.

Those who don’t like the modern learning enviroment say:

  • Its noisy, kids are easily distracted
  • There are 50+ kids in one large open work area
  • Its impersonal, the teachers don’t get to know the kids as well so how can they give you a good sense of how your child is doing. How can the teacher build a relationship with the students so the kids get to know their teacher. 

Our kids are all different

I am an Educational Kinesiologist and I work with parents and their children who have challenges at school. Parents I talk to tell me:

“My son is easily distracted”


“My son drifts from one thing to the next”


“My daughter finds it hard to focus”


“My child is highly sensitive to noise”


“My child is shy”

One size fits all is not going to work in schools but what I do know is that children need direction, rules and a sense of belonging.

What kids need it time to learn and time to play. At home there is a time to play, for homework, bath, bed and meals. When they go to work, there is a time to work and a time for breaks and personal time outside of this. I am not saying structure is the key. I am saying kids need times of the day when they get a balance of work, rest and play.

I love the idea that subjects are child lead on the topic e.g. teaching maths around a child’s interest in dinosaurs or horse riding. Teaching science in the play ground or going on a field trip to engage learners in applying science concepts in the real world.

The Modern Learning Environment doesn’t work because kids don’t generally have the self discipline to be self directed. My son would avoid doing work if he could so how will it help him. He is not self motivated to learn what the teacher wants him to learn. He is motivated to play games, build things, and mix with his mates. Don’t child experts say that children need boundaries? In the book Growing Great Boys,’ by Ian and Mary Grant, it says boys need boundaries enforced continuously, boys need clear rules and instructions with a time limit, and they need help getting organised.

How can multiple teachers get to know the children well enough to know how they like to learn? They can’t. I agree with the sentiments expressed in the TV 3 report above. I just think we have missed the mark on what we should be focused on.

What do kids need to be successful at school?

It is important to recognise that children who are not doing well at school may also not have the physical skills necessary to do what is being asked. Things like:

  • eye teaming (this doesn’t just happen at age 5)
  • balance and coordination
  • the ability to cross their midline which will affect sport, reading, writing and maths)
  • fine and gross motor skills to hold a pencil correctly (yes it is important to hold a pencil correctly)
  • postural support for comfortable sitting and moving… to just name a few.

The development of these physical skills should be the focus for schools. Then kids will grow and their brains will develop because they have the skills they need. All the teacher then has to do is present the information in a fun way and set reasonable objectives for students to achieve results. Then celebrate success.

What can you do if your child is experiencing difficulties?

If your child is struggling at school or getting ready for school you may like to see if they are school ready by completing this short free questionnaire School Readiness questionnaire (free)

You will find lots of useful resources about learning challenges on my website- Brain Gym Nelson


Kerri Bainbridge

Educational Kinesiologist 

Introduction to Brain Gym Workshop- 9th October

Bookings are now open for the Introduction to Brian Gym Workshop.

In this workshop you will be taught Brain Gym® movements and acquire an understanding of its application for learning and behaviour in the classroom.  Teachers report improved work and happier, more manageable classrooms. Students report getting work done more easily and enjoying learning more. These big outcomes are desirable anywhere, anytime!

Course content

9.30-11.30- The Foundation Skills

In this part of the workshop I introduce participants to the importance of reflex developmental, its affect on brain development and school readiness. We will explore playful activities that naturally develop eyes, balance, gross and fine motor skills, hands for handwriting and coordination.

11.30- 3.30-Brain Gym movements

In this part of the workshop I will demonstrate the Brian Gym movements that support Reading, Writing, Focus, Listening, Emotion/ Stress, and brain organisation. This will help you apply the Brain Gym activities to whatever subject you are teaching or learning.

There is a definite focus on using the Brain Gym movements in the classroom however there will be plenty of time to discuss applications to working with small groups, working with kids at home or working one on one, working with adults and working with those with special learning needs.

Location: Richmond Town Hall meeting room

Time: 9.30-3.30pm

Refreshments: morning and afternoon tea provided, please bring your own lunch.

Cost: $145pp, includes reference book. Posters and other resources will be available to purchase on the day.

Note: this will be in the October School holidays

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