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)!