Humor me… Grab a pencil and hold it as though you are going to write.
Take a moment to examine how you are holding your pencil. How many fingers can you see at the front of the pencil? How many are hidden behind? The way that you are holding your pencil now is likely to be the exact same way you held it when you were 4 or 5 years old! Now that’s what I call a well entrenched habit!
Ok, so here’s the bit when you are likely to become a little nervous and perhaps start to squirm around in your chair…I have something of an obsession about children using a correct pencil grip when holding their pencil.
Pencil grips are something that naturally evolve over time from when children first start to scribble with a crayon. They go from wrapping their fist around the crayon, to holding a pencil at the top, then with lots of fingers around the middle of the pencil and finally with a tripod grip. Phases 1-3 generally happen naturally and without any adult prompting, the same way children go from pulling to stand, to cursing to walking.
However, that final step from the modified tripod grasp to the tripod grasp does require some “teaching” and “encouragement”.
So what is the Tripod grip?
In the Tripod grip, the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger form a triangle, with the ring finger and pinkie supporting the middle finger. The pencil should be positioned between the three key fingers – the pad of the thumb, the side of the middle finger,and the tip of the index finger – so that there is equal pressure from all three fingers.All three fingers should be bent slightly. The tripod grip facilitates the proper control of the pencil, allowing your child to write more quickly and easily. It also prevents wrist fatigue when writing for long periods of time.
Grab that pencil again. Do you use a Tripod Grip? Perhaps you don’t and your writing is legible and your wrist never tires. The thing is, it’s really about habit. If as a parent or teacher you demonstrate a Tripod Grips and gently support and prompt children then it will become their default pencil grip. If you don’t, then they won’t, but the world won’t fall off its axis. Here’s a close up view of a right handed grip:
Here’s a close up view of a left handed grip:
Here’s a close up of the fingers:
Click here to download these images as a handout.
I use this fun rhyme with my kiddos to help them remember the fingers to use and where to position them:
First your pointer.
Then your thumb.
Give a little squeeze.
Hide the others underneath and writing is a breeze!
Check back later this week for my favourite pre-writing activities for kid to practice their Tripod Grip!
Miss Mernagh 🙂
One thought on “Starting School Series: Developing a good pencil grip”
Thanks so much! I have the same obsession with the pencil grip in my English teaching -in Sweden! No one seems to correct them and I see some very strange grips!
Can I please forward your article onto my parents?