Therapist Thursday…Pros and Cons of Pencil Grips (Pencil Grasp 101)

Today we begin a two-part Therapist Thursday series on pencil grasps to follow along with our Teacher Tuesday blogs and other ideas we find out about.

by: Amy Bumgarner, OTR/L

One of the first problems that parents and teachers note in a child who has difficulty with handwriting, is pencil grasp.  You might notice that a child does not hold his pencil like you or like the other children in the class.  Some different grasps you may see are the following.amypart1pic1amypart1pic2 amypart1pic3 amypart1pic4A mature pencil grasp looks like this, where the pencil is held between the first finger and the thumb, and rests on the first knuckle of the middle finger. It should also rest in the web space of the hand.

amypart1pic6An appropriate pencil grasp is important because it allows for dynamic finger movements, decreased fatigue, and fosters overall increased legibility of handwriting.  Dynamic finger movements are small movements in your fingers.  As you write, your fingers should guide the strokes instead of your entire hand moving.

So how do we fix an inappropriate grasp? One of the most common responses is a pencil grip. But, how do I know which one is best? Will my child ever figure out how to use it? And, what happens when they do not have the pencil grip? These are a lot of the questions that we found ourselves asking as we worked with children and as we developed Fundanoodle.  So, first things first, here are some of the pencil grips out there.amypart1pic7

As you can see, there are many different grips to choose from.  And, there are others out there too.  Each one has a different reason why they are the best.  In my opinion, if a pencil grip was the answer to fixing a child’s grasp, there would not be so many to choose from.  I think that each one might help some kids, but there is not one that is the answer.  Otherwise, we would not keep seeing new grips.

Secondly, yes, your child can learn how to use it.  However, in our experience, a lot of children can still use a pencil grip the wrong way.  Therefore, it doesn’t always fix the problem.

Thirdly, what does happen when you take the grip away? Yes, some children who have been able to use the grip the correct way, show improvements with their grasp pattern.  However, I like to think of a pencil grip as an aspirin.  It alleviates the symptoms while you are using it, but it has not fixed the underlying problem, a weak hand.

Next week we will discuss ways to improve those muscles and finger skills needed to foster the correct pencil grip.  With a good foundation to build upon, developing the correct pencil grasp is much easier.

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One thought on “Therapist Thursday…Pros and Cons of Pencil Grips (Pencil Grasp 101)

  1. I would like to point you to iampeth.com (international association of master penmen, engrossers and teachers of handwriting). There is a wealth of information there on handwriting instruction. I say this because the techniques you are offering here are incorrect and hinder proper technique.

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