Pencil Grip

How to Hold a Pencil Correctly
by:  Handwriting Without Tears

4 Steps to Teach Correct Grip

Good habits that begin in early years will last a lifetime—and holding a crayon or pencil correctly is a very important habit.  Awkward grips can cause fatigue, cramping, and even pain—making writing difficult.  This problem can be prevented.  The foundation starts with general upper body strength and fine motor skill activities.  Follow these four steps to teach proper grip. 

What you see here are the two efficient grips that are universally
recommended for children to achieve: the tripod grip and the quadropod grip.


For the tripod grip, the thumb, pointer, and middle finger work together to hold a writing tool.   

For the quadropod grip, four fingers work together to stabilize the writing tool.  Notice how the pencil rests on the ring finger and this provides additional support. 

You might observe children holding their crayon or pencil with too many fingers or placing their thumbs on top of their fingers, or their fingers
on top of their thumbs.  If you notice this, you will need to help
children form the proper grip to help them with the mechanics of writing and ultimately, to become better writers. 

Follow these steps: 
  1. Determine Handedness.
    Determine the skilled or preferred hand to teach grip.  Notice which hand the child uses more often during activities requiring hand use, for example, eating and stringing beads.  You may want to collaborate with teachers, parents, and therapists, so they too are watching too and can help you decide.
  2. Teach correct finger placement. 
    Show children how to position their fingers on the writing tool, using one of the grips above.  See the tips below for ideas on how to practice. 
  3. Use small tools. 
    It is important for children to use writing tools that promote the correct use of the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers.  Often, when children are given primary size pencils and crayons, their grip becomes awkward because these tools are too heavy and long for their little hands.
  4. Play! 
    Provide creative opportunities for children to develop fine motor skills that are necessary for correct grip, such as scissor activities, manipulating play dough, stringing beads, etc. 
Tips for Grip:

Keep the little finger and ring finger in the palm.
Have children hold a small sponge or penny in the palm with the little finger and ring finger.  This keeps those fingers out of the way as the thumb, index, and middle fingers hold the pencil.

Use the rubber band trick.
Loop two rubber bands together. Place one around the wrist and the other around the pencil.  This helps the pencil slant naturally in a child’s hand.

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