Getting a good grip on writing
Learning how to hold a pen or pencil properly from an early age is the best way to develop good writing habits for the rest of your life. A good grip will make writing smoother and neater, avoiding cramping and fatigue. The most universally recognised and recommended writing grip is the tripod grip. This is where the child rests the pencil on their middle finger while holding it with their thumb and index finger.
When a child is learning to write they progress through several phases of pencil grasp development, which become more controlled as they mature physically. The more crawling and climbing they do, the stronger their arm and shoulder muscles become, giving them the strength to hold a crayon in a fist and make scribbles. The smaller muscles of the hands develop later and this is when a child begins to grip a pencil with their fingers and start writing. At this early age, encouraging the development of their fine and gross motor skills is much more important than focusing on grip.
Around the age of four or five it is recommended that your child is able to write their name and this is the perfect time to teach the tripod grip; getting this right early on will help their handwriting immensely. For some children the tripod grip comes naturally, others may need some encouragement.
Using the four steps below will help you teach your child the correct grip:
- Firstly, you need to determine whether they are left or right handed. As an indication, watch to see which hand your child favours when eating or playing. If there is no strong lead however, don’t force them to use one or the other exclusively.
- Promote the development of fine motor skills through creative opportunities such as playing with clay and stringing beads.
- Make sure their stationery is the right size for them. If your child is using a pen that is too long, wide or heavy it will affect the way they hold and write with it. Find writing tools that they feel comfortable holding, such as these STABILO EASYgraph pencils which have both left and right handed gripzones.
- Teach your child the right finger placement by showing them how you do it. They will find it easier to learn by copying you.
Gripping the pencil too tightly is a common problem and it is important that your child maintains a relaxed hand posture to prevent cramping. Your child may have too tight a grip if:
- the pencil tip often breaks
- there are rips in the paper
- their knuckles turn white when writing
Keeping the little finger and ring finger in the palm will keep these fingers out of the way and help relax their hand. Giving your child a penny to hold is a great way of encouraging this posture.
Let your child practice the tripod grip with a range of different pens and pencils to familiarise the movement and find out which pen or pencil they find most comfortable. STABILO’s EASYoriginal pen is specifically designed for children learning to write and has an ergonomically shaped grip to help promote comfortable handling and tidy handwriting.
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