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What's the deal with pencil grips?

Why is pencil grip important?

Let me say this first...I don't think there is a "wrong" way to hold your pencil. If it's in your hand, you're holding it right. I have learned after many years as an OT that there are "efficient" and "inefficient" ways of holding a pencil. This becomes particularly relevant in the later school years where students are expected to write large quantities of writing in small time frames. 

The thing is... it's easier and much more practical to work on pencil grip in the early years, when children are first learning to write. This is why your OT may spend time working on this with your child. We are setting the foundation for their future writing success!

The type of pencil grip your child uses is only a problem if it is making writing difficult to read, is not at a reasonable speed or makes their hand sore or tired.

Research shows us that an inefficient pencil grip:

1. Causes pain
2. Causes fatigue
3. Is associated with less legible writing

If we can improve the pencil grip we can help the child write:

1. Without pain (or less pain)
2. For a longer period of time without becoming fatigued
3. More neatly, so their writing is easy to read

So what does an "efficient" pencil grip look like?

Efficient pencil grip improves legibility, speed and endurance. Inefficient pencil grip causes pain and fatigue, as well as less legible writing.

How can I encourage an efficient pencil grip?

  • Triangular pencils
  • A pencil grip
  • Use tiny pieces of chalk/crayons to write - the smaller the writing tool, the harder it is to grip without an efficient pencil grip
  • Use pegs, tweezers, tongs, eye droppers and squeeze bottles to develop "pincer strength" - this is the strength of the thumb and index finger
  • Draw on a slant or vertical walls! WHY? Their wrist goes into slight extension, which is the optimal position when using a pencil
  • There are so many wonderful tips on Pinterest and Google

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