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Pencil Grip

Pencil Grip


Holding a pencil or pen correctly requires strong finger and hand muscles and dexterity.

An ideal pencil grip is one in which enables the child to:


  1. Move the fingers (not the whole hand, the wrist or the arm), because the fingers are more efficient at controlling the pencil
  2. Complete a writing or drawing task without getting tired
  3. Complete a writing or drawing task neatly (control the pencil or pen with efficient finger movements)


It is very important to address a poor pencil grip early as if children are left using an incorrect pencil for an extended period of time, this can affect speed and fluency and impact on academic achievement.


The correct pencil grip is the Dynamic Tripod Grip. This is a grip which enables the fingers to move freely, allowing letters to be formed smoothly and neatly.


Improving fine motor skills through play

In order for a child to use their hands for fine motor tasks, they first must demonstrate strength and control of their core, shoulder, and arm.  If any of these areas are not fully developed in stability or control, then the child will show compensatory strategies as they try to use their hands in play or functional tasks like self-care, handwriting, or cutting with scissors.

A prerequisite to controlled movements of the hand and fingers are strength and stabilization of the wrist.  Control in the wrist allows for manipulation of small items and grasps with the fingers.

Painting on a chalkboard or easel will support children’s’ wrist and hand development. The use of vertical tools such as sawing or hammering will also strengthen these muscles. 



Top Tips to help your child develop develop the muscles and movement pattern required to hold and move a pencil correctly


1) Playdough

Moulding, squeezing, pinching, rolling and manipulating playdough is a good way to strengthen the finger muscles required for the correct pencil grip.


2) Use of tweezers, tongs or chopsticks to grasp objects

Picking up small objects such as buttons, cotton wool balls, raisins, peas and pompoms to transfer between containers


3) Beading, threading and lacing

These type of activities help children as they learn to coordinate both hands together. Once they have an established hand dominance, there needs to be a fluid use of the two hands together to complete the task successfully. 


4) Practice cutting with scissors

When your child uses scissors correctly, the thumb, index and middle fingers get lots of practice in working together. These are the fingers used to control a pencil.

Using the correct scissor grasp, with the ring and little fingers tucked into the hand, will help develop stability on the ulnar side of the hand, which helps with the hand stability needed for handwriting.