Pencil Grasp

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pencil grasp in children

The pencil grasp (or grip) describes the way a child holds the crayon or pencil.

When handwriting is poor, the child’s grip on the pencil is one of the first things that is observed.

A mature and efficient grasp of the pencil will only develop if your child's other fine motor skills have developed properly.


Essential Facts:

  • A correct pencil grip/grasp is one which is efficient and enables your child to write neatly and at a reasonable speed without tiring. The tripod fingers (thumb, middle and index fingers) work together to control the pencil and write neatly.

  • There are a few stages of development in grasping a pencil. It is unwise to encourage your toddler or young child to hold a crayon with 3 fingers before he or she is developmentally mature enough to do so.

  • There are 4 Essential Bases for Fine Motor Skills, and if any of these bases is lacking, then your child's grasp and control of the pencil may not develop optimally.

  • Check out my gallery of real-life poor pencil grips!.

  • A poor pencil grip and messy handwriting can be a symptom of dyslexia. This link goes to an article on the Dyslexia website.

Pencil-and-Paper tasks such as drawing and coloring are NOT the best way to encourage a good pencil grip.


Should I correct my toddler's pencil grasp?

It is really important that you understand the basic developmental stages of holding a pencil and not force your toddler to use a grasp that he/she is not yet ready for.

You would not expect your toddler to walk and run and skip like a 6 year old, so why expect your toddler to hold a pencil like a 6-year old?

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.

But if we force the "correct grip" before the muscles are developmentally ready to control the pencil in that way, we run the risk of awkward pencil grasps emerging.

If you are concerned about your child's fine motor development, read up on the essential bases for fine motor development to make sure you are helping your toddler to develop these bases.

And then give lots of opportunities for:




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