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Why is the correct pencil grasp important?
Carla Grobler

What is the correct grip?

The dynamic tripod grasp.

The pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger. 

An efficient pencil grasp facilitates legibility, letter formation, speed and endurance. An efficient pencil grasp is one in which the writing tool is controlled only through finger movements. This occurs when the pinkie side of the hand supports the whole hand against the writing surface, allowing the other fingers to hold and move the pencil/pen/crayon.

Children use unusual and often inefficient grasp patterns for a variety of reasons: muscle weakness, joint laxity, poor sensory feedback or lack of experience with writing tools.

It is important to try to modify the pencil grasp as early as possible.

Stages of development

This is the progression of grasp development although there are big differences as to what age children acquire the skills.  A few children will jump stages while others go through a phase of using a combination of grasps.

How to change a clumsy grip?

An adaptive pencil grip may be helpful in teaching children to modify their grasp. 

Please use this grip as often as possible to teach your child the correct pencil grasp.

The stetro pencil grip is the most helpful and will facilitate the tripod-grasp.

And if the handwriting doesn’t improve?

After 4 weeks of using the stetro pencil grip and the handwriting still doesn’t improve it may be time to look for underlying reasons for the untidy handwriting.

Here are some possibilities:

If other fine motor tasks are also proving problematic, please refer the child to an occupational therapist for an assessment.


Carla Grobler, Occupational Therapist, 084 581 0644, carla.grobler@vodamail.co.za, www.carlagrobler.co.za                                              




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