Fine motor skills refer to the small movements you make using your hands and wrists.
These movements are important in completing small everyday tasks and developing particular skills, including pencil grip.
If your child is struggling with their pencil grip it could be related to their fine motor skills development.
The development of fine motor skills requires exact coordination between your hand muscles and your brain.
Properly using these small muscles in your hands, fingers, and wrists plays a big role in a child’s handwriting ability.
If your child is having issues with their pencil grip, pediatric occupational therapy in Portland can help.
Let’s take a closer look at what pencil grip is.
We’ll look at the numerous types of pencil grip and ways in which your child can improve this skill.
What Is A Pencil Grip?
Pencil grip refers to the correct way of holding a pencil that allows you to move your hands, fingers, and wrists to complete writing or drawing tasks neatly and without getting tired.
Pencil grip is based both on using proper pencil gripping techniques as well as developing fine motor skills.
It requires refined and coordinated movements of the muscles in the hands, wrists, and fingers.
The development of these muscles and their movements can significantly affect your child’s handwriting ability.
Not having a proper pencil grip can block finger movements and cause your child to write or draw using their arm or wrist.
So what is the correct way to grip a pencil?
Is There More Than One Correct Pencil Grip?
There are different types of pencil grips that can be considered correct and effective.
They are usually classified based on the number of fingers holding the pencil as well as the position of the thumb in relation to the pencil.
Generally speaking, tucking the ring and little fingers out of the way creates an arch in your knuckles.
This is known as the distal transverse metacarpal arch, and it’s important because it gives stability and reduces fatigue.
Let’s take a closer look at the traditionally accepted pencil grip and its variations.
Dynamic Tripod Grip
The dynamic tripod grip is considered to be the traditionally correct way to grip a pencil.
This grip uses the tips of the thumb, middle and index fingers to manipulate the pencil.
The thumb is on the other side of the pencil opposed to the other fingers, and the ring and little fingers are tucked away to create the distal transverse metacarpal arch.
This grip allows the fingers to move freely to write and draw neatly and effectively.
It’s important to avoid using the wrist or arm to make writing or drawing movements even if the grip is correct.
This is known as static tripod grip and isn’t considered to be the proper technique.
Adapted Tripod Grip
This grip can be beneficial to those who suffer from reduced muscle tone or joint pain.
It’s similar to the traditional dynamic tripod grip where you use the tips of the thumb, index and middle fingers.
However, the pencil rests between the index and middle fingers rather than between the thumb and the index finger.
This grip can still provide stability, but reduces the pressure needed from the thumb to keep the pencil in its position.
Lateral Tripod Grip
The lateral tripod grip is also very similar to the dynamic tripod grip.
While you still use the tip of your middle and index fingers, you use the pad of your thumb, not the tip, to grip the pencil.
When using this grip, the thumb crosses over across the pencil and rests against the index finger.
This grip reduces mobility and range of motion and puts a bit more pressure on the thumb for stability.
Dynamic Quadrupod Grip
The dynamic quadrupod grip similarity uses the tips of your thumb, index and middle fingers like the dynamic tripod grip.
The thumb remains on the opposite side of the fingers and the little finger is tucked away for stability.
However, this grip also uses the tip of your ring finger to help control the pencil.
Using the fourth finger can reduce mobility and stability while writing or drawing.
Lateral Quadrupod Grip
Like the lateral tripod grip, this grip uses the pad of the thumb rather than the tip to hold the pencil.
But this time the ring finger is also used to help hold the pencil.
This grip can cause children to become tired much more easily when doing long writing tasks.
This is the result of reduced stability and the use of a fourth finger to make movements.
Why Is It Important To Develop A Good Pencil Grip?
Developing a good pencil grip can further help in the development of other fine motor skills.
It’s also important for your child to develop a good pencil grip so that they can improve their writing speed and legibility.
This can help them avoid issues in their dexterity, learning ability, and other fine motor movements.
A good pencil grip also helps to strengthen important muscles in the hands and fingers and maintain a good distal transverse metacarpal arch, which provides stability and mobility.
Having a good pencil grip can also help your child to avoid feeling tired or having pain in the muscles and joints.
How Can You Help Your Child Improve Their Pencil Grip?
Helping your child improve their pencil grip requires looking at possible underlying skills that are needed for pencil control.
Simply having more practice with a pencil isn’t likely to help them improve their pencil grip.
Developing their fine motor skills by focusing on their muscle movements and coordination can help improve their pencil grip.
Incorporating fine motor activities into play can help develop your child’s strength and dexterity.
These skills can then be carried over to improve their pencil grip.
Let’s take a look at some strategies that you could employ to help improve your child’s fine motor skills and pencil grip.
1. Play With Tissue Paper
Playing with tissue paper can be a very useful fine motor exercise for your child.
Pinching and crumbling tissue paper can help work out the small muscles in the hand and strengthen the hand’s arches.
You can also have them tear pieces of tissue paper to help further develop their muscle strength.
Your child can improve their tripod grip through pushing tissue paper through the top of a bottle.
Holding the bottle with the other hand also allows them to develop their bilateral hand coordination.
2. Play With Pasta
You can use household items like small pieces of dry pasta to create fun activities that can help develop your child’s fine motor skills.
Children can use a spoon to scoop out pasta from a bowl.
This can help improve their hand coordination and grip strength.
You can also use alphabet noodles to help develop their tripod grip through pinching movements.
You can put tape on an easel or wall and have your child pick up letters and position them on the tape to make words.
This not only engages pinching movements, but also wrist movement and coordination.
3. Practice Cutting With Scissors
Learning to use scissors correctly can be very beneficial to improving pencil grip.
Using scissors requires your child to use their thumb, index and middle fingers in coordination with each other.
Using scissors correctly also forces them to tuck the ring and little fingers away, which helps develop stability.
These fine motor skills and movements can be carried over to improve pencil grip.
What Happens If Your Child Has Poor Pencil Grip?
If your child has poor pencil grip, it can cause issues in their development.
Not being able to use the small muscles in the hands and fingers can impact your child’s handwriting.
This can result in sloppy handwriting, which may cause learning difficulties.
A poor pencil grip can also lead to feelings of pain and fatigue in the hands.
Poor pencil grip can also block finger movements and lead to improper movements of the wrists and arms.
Since pencil grip is related to fine motor skills, maintaining a poor pencil grip can affect your child’s dexterity and ability to develop other refined and coordinated movements and actions.
Book Your Appointment With New Horizons Wellness Services Today
Have you noticed that your child has issues with their fine motor skills and isn’t gripping their pencil correctly?
This may also result in them having poor handwriting, which we will address in more detail next time.
We can work with your child to create strategies to improve their pencil grip and fine motor skills.
At New Horizons Wellness Services we can help your child understand and develop the skills they need.
Yours in Health,New Horizons Wellness Services
13333 SW 68th Pkwy,
Tigard, OR 97223
New Horizons Wellness Services provides a true multidisciplinary approach to mental & physical health treatments for children, adults and families.