Should I correct my 3 year old’s pencil grip?
I recently received an email from a parent asking if she should be correcting her 3 year old child’s pencil grip. This is what she had to say.
We have a three year old son that is great at colouring in (keeping within the lines), but he holds his pen in a fist grip with his little finger at the top and his thumb at the bottom. He does this with other objects too. When we try to correct it he doesn’t like it and he goes back to his default position. If we give him crayon stubs he will hold them correctly because there isn’t enough room to hold them the other way, but as soon as he has a regular length pen he goes back to holding it the wrong way. I’d appreciate your thoughts.”
Firstly, it’s really important you understand the basic developmental stages of holding a pencil and not force your child to use a grasp that he/she is not yet ready for.
Moving through the different stages of pencil grasp development is an important part of early childhood development. Each stage of holding a pencil or crayon is dependent on how “steady” the shoulder and arm muscles are.
As your child develops physically, and takes part in lots of fun gross motor activities such as crawling, climbing and pushing, the shoulder and arm muscles will get stronger and steadier, and this should help your child’s pencil grasp to mature as well.
When a child is forced to use a “proper” pencil grasp before the shoulder and arm muscles are ready to support it, you may find fine motor problems emerging, such as holding the pencil in “weird” ways, messy work and even avoidance of drawing and colouring tasks.
So, encourage overall development of their – Gross and Fine motors skills
Gross motor skills by doing activities such as crawling (make sure hands are flat, not arched or raised), swinging on monkey bars, row row your boat, wheel barrows, climbing trees, etc
Fine Motor skills. My favourites are play dough, scissor cutting, tearing paper and colouring using the shading technique.
Usually, given normal play and development opportunities (lots of preparatory skills like cutting etc), by the time your child is 5-6 years old, he/she will have the correct pencil grip needed for handwriting.