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A good pencil grip helps improve handwriting and the fluidity of writing as well. But pencil grip activities for preschoolers must begin early as it becomes very difficult to change a child’s handwriting after about the age of 6. It isn’t impossible to change but needs patience.
Understanding Different Stages of Pencil Grip Development
Types of Pencil Grasps in Children
1. Fisted Grip (1 to 1.5 years)
This is a “primitive” grasp and typically accompanies the “ scribbling” stage.The crayon or marker is held in the palm with the thumb on top in a slight forearm-up position.
2. Radial Cross Palmar Grip (2 – 3 years)
In this the hand is facing downwards towards the paper, with the pencil lying across the palm of their hand.
3. Static Tripod or Quadrupod Grasp (3 – 4 years)
By age 3 to 4 they will switch to a static tripod pencil grasp or quadruped grasp by using the correct fingers to hold a pencil(thumb, index and 3rd finger, but keeping the 3rd finger on top of the pencil). Also known as the modified tripod grasp.
4. Dynamic Tripod Grasp (4 – 6 years)
Between ages 4 – 6, a child’s tripod grasp will mature to a dynamic tripod grasp, when they use the tips of their fingers on the pencil and also hold it more at an angle than vertical.
The Best Pencil Grips for Handwriting in Children
For efficient pencil control, the dynamic pencil grasp is considered the best. The hand is positioned with an open web space(made by the thumb and index finger) that allows the fingers to move the pencil when writing. It’s an efficient grasp for writing speed, control and letter formation. Pencil grasp development is dependent on how “steady” the shoulder and arm muscles are. It’s important for children to develop a correct pencil grasp by going through appropriate developmental stages of various pencil grasps.
Natural Development of Grasps and Grips
Good pencil grips for preschoolers will come as the finger muscles develop and become more skilled. As the child develops physically and gets involved in various gross motor activities such as pushing, climbing and crawling, the arm and shoulder get stronger and steadier and this helps your child’s pencil grasp to mature as well.
Not all kids develop at the same pace and hence don’t force your child to hold a pencil with a tripod grip before he is developmentally ready to do so. It’s not uncommon for a child to use lots of different grasps before he reaches the tripod grasp age. Changing pencil grasp patterns may take a little time and a lot of patience.