I will be asked about pencil grips every time I teach a workshop or lecture on handwriting. My popular post, The Pencil Grip That Strengthens Your Child’s Fingers As They Write. , partially explains when and why I would recommend the use of this excellent pencil grip with older kids. I have a message for preschool teachers that see awkward or clumsy pencil grasp in their 4 -year-olds: don’t use a grip until you have worked on grasp! The reason? The other grips will not develop better grasp, and pencil grips are too frequently lost or used improperly with young children.
Pencil grips can be a huge help for older children or children with specific muscular or neurological issues. Kids with low muscle tone or too much joint mobility in their fingers can really benefit from their use. Children with mild cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy can also benefit from the use of a good grip and the correctly-sized writing tool.
For typical kids who aren’t using a tripod or quadruped grasp but are writing letters, the better choice is to get creative with crayon and marker dimensions. Short crayon pieces, Flip crayons from Handwriting Without Tears (HWT), and writing with a tablet stylus from iCreate can strengthen muscles and increase tactile and proprioceptive awareness. Finally, teach grasp actively. HWT does a fabulous job in their teacher guides. These books, especially the pre-K book, are underutilized. They are fantastic resources for any preschool teacher and pediatric occupational therapist.
Pencil grips can help some children, but don’t jump into a grip until you have addressed the reasons you were thinking of using a grip in the first place!