I Know How to Hold My Pencil.
It is important for your child to have a useful grasp to become efficient with writing and coloring. Grasp changes as your child gets older. It is okay and expected for them to start at 12 months old with a fisted grasp on the crayon. You should then start to see your child hold their crayon with their fingers down towards the tip around 2-3 years old. At 3 ½ years old, you might see them hold the crayon with all their fingers around the crayon. Beginning around 4 ½ years old, you will want to see your child hold the crayon or pencil with what is called a “tripod grasp”. With this grasp they should be holding the crayon towards the tip between their thumb and index finger with it resting on their middle finger. You also want to see an open space around the crayon or pencil.
To get your child started with the right grasp it is important to build up their strength in their trunk and arms. You can work on their trunk and arm strength with animal walks (such as a bear or crab walk), children’s yoga or even just playing on a playground. Making sure their hands are strong enough to hold the crayon can be worked on by playing with Playdoh, stringing small beads or cutting.
To work on your child’s grasp first make sure they have a hand preference. Then, teach them how to hold the crayon or pencil. Keep the crayons or pencil small. If you have a fat crayon or pencil you are more likely to see them try to put all their fingers around it.
If your child is older and still struggling with how to hold a pencil, then you can always try a pencil grip. My personal favorite is called “the pencil grip”. They also have one called a “crossover grip” for kids that like to wrap their thumb around the pencil. You can find some pencil grips at your local teacher supply store or online. Here’s an example of the “crossover grip”:
If there are concerns, an occupational therapist can help to evaluate your child and recommend if a grip is needed and what grip might be best to use. Please feel free to contact any of the OTs at PTC to help your child out with their pencil grip.
Remember, a better grasp often equals better handwriting!
Kellie Costello, MOT, OTR/L