What is an effective pencil grip?

A good pencil allows the child to hold the pencil in the hand  in such a way that  small movements of the fingers and wrist can be used to move the pencil point in all directions on the paper. 

The three finger tripod grip the most common configuration: the pencil is stabilised between the thumb and the side of the index and middle fingers. 

  • The ring and middle fingers rest lightly in the palm of the hand.
  • The wrist is held straight (in extension). 

 A good grip allows the child to make small bending and straightening movements of the fingers.

;good grip.jpg

In this short video you see how I use a combination of small finger movements, combined with small wrist movements to draw short lines in different directions.  TIP: Click on the gear to for slow motion playback. 

The position of the thumb varies

Some children adopt a typical tripod grip with the thumb held away from the index finger with a gap between the thumb and index finger. 

The thumb may also be held close to the index finger (thumb adduction). This position is commonly seen in children with hypermobile fingers.  (More about thumb position)

          adapted grip 1.jpg                 WE grip 1.jpg

Grips that are not functional

A grip is not functional if it does not allow the child to easily make small bending and straightening (flexion and extension) movements of the fingers to manipulate the pencil point on the paper.

A tight tripod grip

A tripod grip where the pencil is held very tightly with the index and middle finger  strongly flexed at the first middle finger joint and over extended at the end finger joint does not allow for easy small movements of the fingers.

Straight finger grip with index finger resting on top of the pencil shaft

In this grip configuration the pencil with the middle finger resting on top of the pencil shaft. The index and middle fingers straight (extended).

In the picture below the pencil is stabilised between the pads of the thumb and fingers.

               grip 8.jpg

Four finger grip

Some children hold the pencil with all the fingers resting on the pencil. This position does not allow easy finger movements.

       4 finger grip .jpg    4 finger grip_0.jpg

More about pencil grip and finger movements 


What is an effective pencil grip?  ►You are here

Thumb position for an effective grip 

How to assess your child's pencil grip and finger movements

How to change an ineffective gri

Training finger movements for handwriting