Here are some of our favorite ways to teach kids how to improve their pencil grasp.
One of the most common reasons that kids get referred for occupational therapy is because they have a “funky pencil grasp”. When kids struggle with holding a pencil efficiently, there are lots of easy little tricks we OTs like to use to promote stronger, more effective grasp patterns on writing utensils.
Beyond the Tripod Grasp…
We hear from a lot of people who are worried about the “funky” way their kids are grasping their pencils. While most people think of the tripod grasp as the gold standard, there are actually many other pencil grasps that are just as efficient and effective! Sometimes kids come up with their own ways of holding a pencil that work just fine!
As long as a child is able to:
-Write without pain or strain on their joints
-Write clearly and legibly
-Demonstrate adequate speed when writing
…you probably don’t need to worry about their pencil grasp!
6 Easy Tips to Improve Pencil Grasp
Before they can focus on fine motor skill development and handwriting, kids need to build strong, stable core muscles to give them a good foundation and base of support. Try these core strengthening activities for kids!
If a child doesn’t have adequate hand strength, grasping a pencil efficiently and maintaining an efficient pencil grasp will prove to be very difficult. Luckily there are tons of fun ways to help kids develop hand strength.
Location of Grasp
If your child struggles with holding the pencil either too far away or too close to the tip, try placing a small sticker or wrap a stripe of colored electrical tape around the pencil at the appropriate height.
Give your child verbal prompts to use his Super Fingers (thumb, index, and middle fingers)! This simple reminder has made all the difference with several of my preschoolers who just need a little nudge to remember the correct pencil grasp.
Shorter Writing Utensils
Try having your child write with shorter pencils (like the ones used on the golf course) or broken crayons. This is a favorite trick of OTs and preschool teachers because kids naturally gravitate toward a tripod grasp at the correct height when using smaller writing utensils.
Tuck a Small Object
Another great grasping trick is to have kids tuck a small object (e.g. craft pompom, marble) into their ring and pinky fingers, holding it there while they grasp the pencil and writing with their thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
Check out these great toys to encourage strong grasp patterns on writing utensils (from Mama OT)!
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Fabulous handwriting respurces.
I’m a dyslexia assessor, primary school teacher and tutor – as well as a mummy of two fabulous young children (a son with Aspergers and a daughter who has hyper mobility that affects her handwriting) . Please keep me up to date on your resources.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Karen! We are so happy that you find the information that we share useful!
kris veneracion says
Timely ideas – I was fascinated by the analysis – Does someone know where my business might get ahold of a blank a form copy to type on ?
The way in which the pencil is held in the picture is not the right one.
Thanks for reading this post! We like to feature a variety of pictures of different grasps on our site. This is because there are many different grasps that, while they aren’t the traditional tripod grasp, are quite functional for handwriting – including the one in this image. In fact, the grasp in the image is how I hold my pencil! :)
I tried your way and it works with a small story for my 5 yr old to remember how to have a grip on his pencil, so far that’s the best I’ve come up with after a an hr or so he managed to remember my story and he is getting a grip on his pencil so here it goes: imaginary the pencil is ur baby and u putting him to sleep, u lay his body between your thumb and index finer that’s his blanket, hold him tonight with your thumb and index finger so he knows u love him and lay his head on the pillow that’s your middle finger make sure his body lays in his blanket. The last two fingers r monster u set his bad which I don’t want them to come out. Now once he’s got that right he begins to write I told my son if his body is out of the blanket pat his down to sleep so it’s lays back between his thumb n index so he can do his honework in his dreams. This my people is the best way I taught him to hold his pencil with a short story cuz it helped him and hopefully help you too cuz when kindergarten begins I want him to be so prepared n not hate going to school
Thanks for sharing this post with us.
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