Teaching Children the Proper Pencil Grip

A child’s natural response is to hold a pencil with his entire fist, pinky finger closest to the paper and index finger and thumb on top. A correct pencil grip involves holding the pencil between the thumb and pointer finger, and resting the pencil on the middle finger for added stability.

Correct and incorrect pencil grip

When your child’s fine motor skills have progressed to the point that he is ready to begin using a pencil, it is time to introduce your child to the proper pencil grip.

Tips for teaching your child the proper pencil grip

  1. Use a golf pencil. Golf pencils are typically half the length of standard pencils so they are lighter and easier for a small hand to manipulate than the average pencil.
  2. Demonstrate the proper pencil grip for your child before handing him the pencil, saying aloud where you are placing your fingers. Then show your child how you are able to easily control the pencil with that grip.
  3. Place the pencil into your child’s hand and position his fingers on the pencil. First have him pinch the pencil with his thumb and index finger approximately half an inch above the point.  Then have him “rest” the pencil on his middle finger.
  4. Direct your child to rest the side of his hand closest to his pinky on the paper and move the pencil with only his thumb and index finger. Show him how to use his non-dominant hand (the one without the pencil) to hold the paper steady while his dominant hand (the one with the pencil) moves the pencil.

Tips for introducing the proper pencil grip: 1. Introduce a golf pencil 2. Demonstrate the proper grip 3. Position your child’s fingers correctly 4. Direct him to rest his hand on the table for support

Try this at home

Holding a pencil with the correct pencil grip requires a child to move his fingers in unfamiliar ways. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way for your child to strengthen his pencil grip is by practicing writing and tracing.

To start, sit with your child while he doodles.  As long as he is holding the crayon or pencil with the correct pencil grip, any artistic creation will be a success! Encourage him to draw circles, curves and straight lines, to give his fingers practice with many different movements.

Use tracing worksheets to encourage him to trace specific lines and curves.  Print out numerous copies of each worksheet so he has ample opportunity to practice.  Tracing these different styles of vertical, horizontal and curvy lines will help him develop a strong pencil grip that will allow him to eventually freehand write letters and draw shapes.

What can you share with other parents?

When did you first notice that your child was interested in using crayons and pencils?  Does your child seem to enjoy freehand coloring or tracing better?  Did your child struggle to learn the proper pencil grip? If so, what tricks did you use to help correct an improper grip?

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