A good pencil grip allows the child to keep the wrist steady and make small movements of the fingers to move the pen tip in different direction to create short straight and curved lines.
Research has shown that an ideal pencil grip is not needed for fluent handwriting. In fact, trying to change a functional adapted grip often creates problems for the child.
The message is: any grip that is comfortable and allows a child make small bending and straightening movements of the fingers along with very small wrist movements is acceptable.
Attempting to change a functional adapted grip into an ideal tripod grip will often make handwriting difficult and tiring for the child. It creates a problem rather than solving one.
Development of pencil grip
The pencil is held in the palm and the pencil point sticks out between the thumb and forefinger. The wrist is held straight and forearm is twisted downwards. The young child may also hold the marker in the palm of the hand with the point protruding past the little finger.
Pencil grip and finger movements
- The pencil shaft is supported between the thumb and the middle finger and the forefinger rests on the top of the pencil shaft.
- The ring and the little finger rest lightly in the palm of the hand.
Hypermobility and grip configuration
- The shaft pencil is supported by the thumb against the base of the forefinger and the side of the middle finger.
- The tip of the forefinger rests against the shaft of the pencil close to the tip.
- This adapted grip still allows the child to make small bending movements of the fingers to move the pencil tip.
Take time to observe finger movements for drawing short lines
Try the following Position your arm vertically on the page. Now draw a short up and down lines. You will probably notice that to draw these short lines you are bending and extending the fingers while the thumb stays straight. Now draw several short back-and-forth horizontal lines. Notice that this time you probably using small wrist movement to produce the lines.
When does a grip need to be changed?
The important thing to pay attention to when assessing a child's grip is not whether it conforms to some ideal but rather whether the grip allows the child to make small finger movements to control the point of the marker (pen or pencil).
If the fingers are too flexed (bent) and the marker is gripped too strongly the child has difficulty making small flexing (bending) and extending (straightening) movements of the fingers. Instead the child will use wrist movement to move the pencil tip.
Does using a pencil grip help?