Pencil Grasp

Pencil Grasp

There are four stages of pencil grasp:

  1. The fisted grip is exactly what it sounds like, and is usually how a toddler initially grips a crayon or marker, with the pinky side of the fist facing down. With a fisted grip the movement is coming from the shoulders.
  2. The next stage is the palmar grasp. In the palmar grasp the crayon lays across the palm with the thumb and pointer finger facing down and the elbow out to the side. The palmar grasp requires more arm strength.
  3. The five finger pencil grasp is the next stage, and true to its name involves all five fingers on the writing utensil. The thumb and pointer and facing down while the ring finger and pinky are also holding the utensil. This grip relies on wrist strength to manipulate the marker.
  4. Finally, a child develops the tripod pencil grasp, which is similar to the five finger, except the ring and pinky fingers are now tucked into the palm. This grip requires greater finger strength, but also allows for finer control over the utensil.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Children will often progress forwards and backwards through the different stages, so don't be surprised if one day they are in a five finger grasp and the next they are back at the palmar grasp.
  • It's important not to rush a child to a more advanced grip before they are developmentally ready, as this can cause more harm than good. It is very hard to unlearn a bad pencil grip. And a bad pencil grip is going to dramatically slow them down in elementary school.

What We're Learning:

  • self-expression and creativity
  • experimentation with different materials
  • ability to communicate ideas in a variety of ways (ie: writing and drawing)
  • fine motor control