If you’re preparing your child for school, one of the things you need to work on is having a good pencil grip.
Writing is pretty much the fundamental skill you need to have to learn something. But this just might be a difficult task for a child starting their educational journey.
You see, writing, after all, is a mix of multiple movements. It requires coordination between the brain and the fingers. The eyes need to register the word or object and then reproduce the same by memory on a piece of paper.
It’s only when you break this process down, do you realise how complicated it can get. The complete procedure is called fine motor skills, and each of us develops this over time.
But a lot of this process starts naturally at an early age with toddlers. From how you hold the pencil to how you position your hand on a piece of paper, all of it contributes to how you write. And the right technique can be learnt and perfected over time.
But first, you need your little one to learn this skill. Even occupational therapists check how the child is holding the pencil when they diagnose children for fine motor skills.
So, the process starts with how to teach pencil grip to your child, and we will tell you how you build on this.
What Is Pencil Grip
Pencil grip is a technique that helps you hold your pencil correctly so that you can write more easily and comfortably.
It helps you ensure that your thumb and index finger are on top of the pencil while the other fingers are wrapped around the side. This way, your hand will not cramp up as you write for longer periods!
Mum correcting daughter’s pencil grip | Image from Pexels
What Are the Pencil Grip Types
The pencil grip is one of the most important things to master when learning how to write, and it’s something you’ll use every time you pick up a pencil or pen. You probably have a natural grasp on how you hold your pencil, but that’s only one type of pencil grip.
There are four pencil grips: overhand, underhand, tripod, and tripod-modified.
The overhand and underhand grips are the most common. Overhand is when you hold your pencil in an “overhand” fashion—like you’re reaching for something behind your back—and underhand is when you have it like a handshake.
The tripod grip is when you place your index finger on top of the eraser end of the pencil and rest your thumb on top of that finger. This grip is great for writing small letters because it allows you to support the weight of the pencil with just two fingers rather than three or four fingers, like in an overhand or underhand grip.
The tripod-modified grip is similar to a tripod grip but with an additional finger that helps support the weight of the pencil by resting between two other fingers on either side.
What Are the Pencil Grip Stages
The pencil grip stages are a way of describing the different ways in which young children hold their pencils.
There are 5 different stages, each a little bit more advanced than the last. The first stage is called the “slanted posture, ” which involves holding the pencil between your thumb and index finger.
The second stage involves holding the pencil between your thumb and middle finger, while the third involves placing all four fingers on the pencil to stabilise it.
The fourth stage involves gripping the pencil with all five fingers, while in the fifth and final stage (which some people never reach), students learn to hold a pen or stylus with one hand.
These stages are important because they help teachers determine what kind of assistance might be needed for a student who is having trouble learning how to write properly as they grow up.
How To Teach Pencil Grip To Your Child?
Image Source: Unsplash
At two-and-a-half to three years old, your child should be able to draw horizontal and vertical lines, cut with scissors, and remove lids from small containers. all of this requires hand-eye coordination and strong finger muscles.
To encourage having a strong pencil grip, encourage your child to do the following:
- Play with arts and crafts
- Play with playdough
- Colouring using crayons or pencils
- Practice drawing straight lines, circles, or cross
- Play connect the dots
Once your child can do these activities easily, your next target should be correcting how they hold the pencil.
While some kids may find it easy and get the hang of it right from the get-go, some kids struggle but will come around after a few practice sessions. The important thing is that you encourage them and let them practice as often as possible.
Why do children find it difficult to hold a pencil correctly?
- They’ve not been taught how to hold it correctly
- They have poor fine motor skills
- They are not familiar with the pencil’s grasp
How To Teach Pencil Grip To Kids In 5 Ways
Image Source: Unsplash
1. Play with toys that have tongs
Buy your child toys that have tongs to naturally improve their finger strength.
Tongs are tweezers and require effort to use one of them. It encourages using the thumb, index finger, and the tiny muscles between the two fingers.
You can also let them use tweezers to have foods at home like grapes, raisins, or popcorn. This will help the children practise without becoming too conscious about it. Moreover, kids find the novelty of it fun.
You can also try teaching them to use chopsticks that use the same principle of fine motor skills and will only help them have better control over their muscles.
2. Use smaller pencils and crayons
A genius trick to help children adapt to using a pencil is using smaller pencils, crayons or chalk that offers a better grasp. Ideally, a smaller pencil requires more pressure and effort from the child.
You can break the crayon or the pencil in half to force children to use the small-sized version. So when they switch to regular-sized pencils, it will be easier to grasp them.
On the bright side, you will have a spare to hand them when you eventually lose this one.
At the same time, try experimenting with different types of writing utensils for optimum results. Triangle-shaped pencils help, while you can also find triangle-shaped grips that aim to fetch the same results.
Image Source: Pexels
3. Write on vertical surfaces
Writing on a vertical surface, such as chalkboards, dry-erase boards, or even the wall, helps build strength and stability.
It places the wrist in a good position for writing, naturally allowing the child’s arms to control the writing pattern.
4. Focus on improving their fine motor skills
Good handwriting requires strong control over the pencil, which comes from fine motor skills.
So, you must concentrate on developing your child’s fine motor activities and strengthening the fingers.
Think outside the lines and let your child practice these skills beyond a pencil and paper. Let them tear paper, put puzzles together, do finger painting, and more such activities.
Try to get them to do those activities where they imitate how to hold a pencil. You can also strengthen the fingers by doing activities that require a pincer grasp.
5. Use pencil grips
Image Source: Grotto Grip
Although recommended as a last resort, pencil grips can help children learn the right technique to hold a pencil. Some occupational therapists believe this could help the child get past the correct coordination of holding the pencil.
We would also recommend that you visit a doctor, particularly an occupational therapist, if you think your child is finding it difficult to do simple activities.
Some children do take longer to develop these skills, but there’s no harm in having them checked for potential learning disorders. Even then, children will need a bit of extra effort to learn to hold the pencil right, but they will get it.
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
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