Pencil grasps can be a difficult concept for kids to master. Pencil grasps require hand strength, motor planning and coordination, plus a little instruction along the way. Give your kids an advantage when teaching them pencil grasp with these simple yet effective techniques.
1.Explain “stop” and “go” fingers- Make the analogy of a stop light to your child’s fingers when holding a pencil. The “go” fingers (thumb, index, and middle) get to “go” for a ride on the pencil, while the “stop” fingers (ring finger and pinky) get tucked into the palm instead.
2. Put a green dot on their “go” fingers and a red dot on the “stop” fingers- Visual cues can be so helpful for kids so they can truly see what’s being explained to them. Put a green dot on your child’s “go” fingers (thumb, index, and middle) where those fingers are supposed to hold the pencil. Note- I put the green dot on the side pad of the middle finger because the pencil rests there rather than on the fingertip.
3. Draw a line around the bottom of the pencil- Make a visual cue on the pencil by drawing a green ring around the part where the two colors meet). Have the child match the green dots on their “go” fingers to the green line on the pencil for correct positioning.
4. Place a sticker on the pencil- Accentuate the visual cue on the pencil by wrapping a sticker just above the sharpened portion of the pencil so the child can hold it in the correct position. If possible, use a green sticker to match the green “go” fingers.
5. Play the pencil pick up game- As with anything, practice makes perfect. Practice pencil grasp with this fun game in order to keep your child’s interest. Check out the video on how to play…..
6. Build hand strength through play activities- You cannot hold a pencil correctly without adequate hand strength. So, work on building hand strength by PLAYING! Do the monkey bars, climb on a playground, play tug-of-war, build something with Play Doh, etc… to increase hand strength so that your child will be able to hold the pencil properly.
7. Broken crayon trick- Break a crayon in half so that only 3 fingers can grasp it, to improve pencil grasp. Find out more about this trick and the developmental grasp pattern of kids as they grow in this article.
Please don’t delay in teaching your child about pencil grasp. Bad habits are easy to form and very difficult to break, especially in terms of handwriting. So use these tips to teach your child the “write” way to hold a pencil before they get into poor habits!
I have so many parents (and coworkers) who do not feel it’s that important. I hear, “oh my grip is terrible too, and I’m fine.” I’ve tried explaining about finger strength and fatigue, etc., but no one wants to take the matter seriously. Any advice?
Amy Smith says
I have had similar experiences too. I usually say that grip will come into play moreso when the writing demands grow such as with longer writing assignments and quicker writing pace. Thanks for reading!
I appreciate the ideas here – I’m currently working with my 4 year old on handwriting. However, I admit to feeling like alternate grips can work, as I always used a different one and have (in my modest opinion) quite pretty handwriting, and have always been able to write quickly, legibly, and without tiring – I also prefer handwriting to typing and completed all degrees in the days before laptops were the norm. I rest the pencil on my ring finger – it has always done so! I can also write with the 3 finger grip, but have always found the other more comfortable and I seem to write with more ease and speed. So I’m a little indifferent to forcing my daughter if she feels more comfortable in another position.
Amy Smith says
Absolutely! I agree that its about functionality so if it works for you then that’s great. Thanks for your insight!
I love the pencil pick up game! What song were you playing? It’s perfect or the activity.
Amy Smith says
Thank you!! The song is from the Nutcracker ballet…. I think the dance of the sugarplum fairies maybe? Glad you liked it:)
Thank you for this! My almost 5 year old has a lot of trouble with pencil grip and he’s been working on it with OT but right now OT is virtual and it’s been a struggle for him to understand how to pick up the pencil. I think your method might be just what he needs to help him figure it out. Thank you so much!