Functional pencil grasps
If you are not familiar with what a functional pencil grasp might look like then we highly recommend you read our post ‘What is a good pencil grasp?’ before reading on. This post gives a background to pencil grasp development. It provides some ideas on how to help a child to improve the way they hold onto a pencil. The post also gives ideas on how to help children with a very immature pencil grasp. If you are looking for specific activities and worksheets to help children with their pencil grasp then we also recommend our resource Supporting Pencil Grasp Development.
This page provides a discussion on when a pencil grip might be helpful. It also reviews different pencil grips that are commercially available in the UK. All reviews are independent and GriffinOT does not receive payment or endorsements from any companies. As I constantly update the videos, I also recommend that you subscribe to our Youtube channel or join our newsletter or follow our Facebook page so you receive notifications when new videos are released.
When should a pencil grip be considered?
In my opinion, pencil grips should only be considered for children over the age of five who have received some support to develop their pencil grasp already. They should not be the first strategy that is tried for a child who is having difficulty holding onto their pencil.
For children younger than five it is important is to look at writing utensils that will help to support their finger and hand development first, before giving them a pencil grip. This is also true for children under six who may have developmental delays. Children initially hold onto their pencil with their whole hand, this is called a gross or palmer pencil grasp. Older children using this grasp have not developed the fine motor skills needed to hold onto their pencil with their fingers. These children need more support to develop their hand and finger control. This can be done by working on their fine motor skills. My book ‘Supporting Pencil Grasp Development’ also provides relevant activities and worksheets.
Helpful supports to use with these children are finger crayons and small pencils. These help the child to improve their finger control and the movement needed to develop their pencil grasp. We discuss them further in the video below.
If the child is holding the pencil with their fingers but their grasp is not mature, you can also try the quadruped and alternate tripod grasp. These grip strategies are all discussed further on our page ‘What Does a Good Pencil Grasp Look Like?’
Lastly, for children who have started to hold the pencil with their fingers rather than their whole hand, but who are still struggling to get the correct fingers onto their pencil, a pencil grip can be tried.
How do we monitor the pencil grip?
It is absolutely essential to ensure that you are monitoring the pencil grip. It is not ok to just give a child a grip and expect it to work. You must regularly check whether the grip is being used correctly. It is also important to check that it is helping. I recommending considering the following points to check if the pencil grip is helping.