I am curious to gather some opinions here.
We recently had a wonderful professional development session given by occupational therapist Melody Cohen who is based in New Canaan, CT. She was sharing with us information about hand development and proper grip development with young children.
I could write several blog posts about what she explained to us, but the item I found most interesting was her emphatic plea to get rid of markers and even pencils in our preschool classrooms. She believes very strongly in the use of crayons. She implored us to get rid of the markers around the rooms. At the time of her presentation, in my classroom, I had crayons and markers, as well as colored pencils and fat graphite pencils, but the children usually choose the markers. In fact, I could not remember seeing the children ever choose the crayons from the writing buckets all around the classroom.
Melody explained to us that with markers it is very easy to produce a mark on a paper. You can hold the marker at just about any angle with varying amounts of pressure and it still works. With a crayon, you need to use more pressure and varying amounts of pressure when writing and coloring. Crayon use is also more conducive to proper grip development as they are shorter, often lighter, have marks on them with which to align fingers and you need that control of pressure that only a thumb and forefinger working together can achieve.
So I did an experiment. I removed all of the markers from my classroom aside from those used on the various whiteboards around the room. I was ready for the children to balk the next day, to search for the markers, to complain that they were missing.
It has been over a month now. Not a single child has mentioned the missing markers. They are all happily using the crayons.
And...I can see the few children that used to write with their elbows in the air and with such a light touch starting to gravitate their arms and hands closer to the paper. It has been an interesting experiment that I am planning on continuing while I process this, observe more and research it more myself. I am really interested to hear from other teachers.
What do you use and WHY?