NY baby steps header logo

How to Identify and Correct Pencil Grip Issues in Preschool Children

correct pencil grip

As a parent, we love to see our children learn and develop, but there is also something to be said for being mindful of our children’s physical development. One thing that concerns many parents while learning is their child not grasping pencil grip properly. This can have some serious consequences in the long run if left unrecognized, so it’s important to know what signs kids are giving off to show they may not be gripping the pencil correctly.

This article discusses the need for children to practice proper grip to avoid developmental complications later in life. It also shows how you can begin correcting your child’s pencil grip now before it becomes a bigger problem.

So, In order for you to develop ways to properly correct your child’s pencil grip. It is important to identify the common causes of poor pencil grip. This way, you and your child can work on the most common causes and get to the source of the problem instead of treating the symptoms.

Common Causes for Poor Pencil Grip

There are two common causes of poor pencil grip children experience in preschool: fine motor weakness and weak shoulder muscles. It’s important to pay attention to these possible causes because they will help you determine what your child may be experiencing. 

Fine Motor Weakness:  In particular weak finger muscles frequently result in an awkward grip. When a child’s finger muscles are underdeveloped, it leads to a lack of coordination. You may witness it when children try to hold the pencil any way they can to stabilize it.

Weak Shoulder Muscles: When a child’s shoulder muscles are weak, these muscles may not be able to correct the child’s grip effectively. If this is the case, it could also lead to an awkward grip.

Providing more fine motor play opportunities will help build intrinsic muscle in the hands and improve hand coordination. In addition to supporting fine motor skills, we want to include activities that help build shoulder strength as well.

What Should A Correct Pencil Grip Look Like?

When it comes to correcting your child’s pencil grip, it is important that you should have a reference on what a good pencil grip looks like. This way, you can notice the difference and better determine what kind of grip your child has. 

Correct Pencil Grip

correct pencil grip

A correct pencil grip will have the following characteristics:

Your child’s thumb and index finger shall pinch the pencil, which rests on the middle finger. The shaft of the pencil sits in the area between the thumb and the pointer finger. This is referred to as the “tripod grasp.”

The picture shows a correct pencil grip. One can see that the child’s thumb is in line with the index finger. 

How to Correct Poor Pencil Grip In Preschoolers

In order to build-up to the tripod grasp, it is essential for your little one to first work on the “pincer grasp.” It refers to holding a tiny object between the pointer finger and thumb. The pincer grasp is the foundation for holding a pencil properly.


10 Effective Tips On How To Correct Poor Pencil Grips


We at Baby Steps Daycare understand that most parents are justifiably concerned about their child’s pencil grip. The tips you will find here involve meaningful activities that work on the “pincer grasp,” developing fine motor skills, enhancing the shoulders, and working on the tripod grasp. The combination of these skills will help your kids correct a poor pencil grip. 


1. Play With Play Dough

play with play dough

The effectiveness of play dough as fine motor activity is undisputed. Therefore, you can use it to build up the muscles in your child’s hands while learning how to hold the pencil properly. In order to utilize play dough as good fine motor activity, you should add different textures and let your child experiment with how soft or hard they squeeze it until they come up with the right amount of force. 


2. Encourage Children To Play With LEGOS

playing lego

LEGO bricks are great to play with as they can be used to create and build anything that your child’s imagination may come up with. You will also find LEGOS great furniture pieces in group play. Children can use LEGOS as a tool to develop their fine motor skills as well. Legos are child-favorite toys, and they are the right tool for working on pencil grip. Regular size Legos force a kid to use the pincer grasp. The downside with playing LEGOS is it is difficult to store. Luckily, there are clever ways to store your LEGOS at home properly.


3. Play With Tweezers

playing with tweezers

Tweezers are another tool that is great for developing fine motor skills. With the tweezers, your child can pinch and hold very small objects. This will help them develop their pincer grasp because it is a required skill for holding a pencil properly. If you have tweezers, use them to help your child develop the right grasp when playing Legos or PlayDoh. 


4. Peeling Stickers

peeling stickers

Peeling stickers is a fun and very effective way to develop fine motor skills. You can use them as an activity when playing with your kids. You can let your child peel the stickers with their fingers and try to hold each in place. Peel stickers are very light and soft, which means they are easier to hold. 


5. Let Them Color

child uses crayons

Children love to color, and it is a great way to build upon their fine motor skills. Having a box of crayons and coloring books is a must if you want to get your preschooler engaged in coloring activities. Coloring book allows a child to practice their grip and provides an opportunity to develop patterning abilities and build teamwork skills, thanks to the collaboration that children often exhibit while sharing the same coloring book. 


6. Play with Scissors

children use scissors

Playing with scissors is another good activity that will build your child’s fine motor skills because it makes them cut and remove things from paper, which can help develop their hand muscles and coordination. When using scissors, make sure to be with your child. If you highly doubt your child is doing it correctly, then don’t hesitate to take the scissors away from him. 


7. Make Use Of Clothespins

playing clothespins

Clothespins are a great way to develop fine motor skills because it involves your child holding and moving his hand through a range of different motions to pick up blank and folded items. Make sure to use clothespins with the right weight and softness so that they don’t hurt the child’s hand. You can also make a game where your little one squeezes and attaches clothespins to cardstocks.


8. Engage in Activities That Boost Shoulder Strength

hanging on a monkey bar

It is also essential to have good shoulder strength in order to develop a proper pencil grip. There are effective ways that you can help your child to build up his shoulder strength, such as:

  • hanging from the monkey bars
  • doing wheelbarrow walks
  • hanging out at a playground and swinging
  • lifting objects that are light enough to be lifted. 
  • Playing sports, especially ball games, will help in strengthening the shoulders. 


9. Use Golf Pencils For Writing

golf pencil

You have been building hand strength, shoulder strength, and fine motor skills. Now, it is time to get your child ready to write! If you know about the golf pencil, you will know it is a sharp pencil with a triangular tip. To add to that, it has a knurled grip which helps to make writing simple and fun! You can give your child the golf pencil and let him start writing on scrapbook paper or coloring pages. Using this pencil may help him correct a poor pencil grip. 


10. Use A Pencil Gripper if Necessary

correct pencil grip

If your little child is having a hard time holding upright a pencil, you can use a pencil gripper. This tool has been created to help you learn how to hold and control a pencil correctly. The jeweler-shaped end enables the child to grasp the side of the pencil with the hand while using the thumb for support. 

Final Thoughts

Poor pencil grip is one of the leading concerns of kids and parents. Most children do not develop a good pencil grip due to the course work they are getting at school, which is too demanding. However, you can help your child when they are young by engaging in some activities that will get their hands ready so they can pick up a pencil properly to begin writing at an early age.

Here at Baby Steps Daycare, we help young children develop their fine motor skills. We have a variety of different activities that we use to help them get engaged, develop their hand muscles and learn how to write. The activities we have provided above will help get your child started on the right path to being able to hold a small pencil correctly so they can do well at school.

If you have any questions on how we can help your child develop his fine motor skills or on how we can help you with your child’s development, please do not hesitate to reach us, and we will be delighted to discuss it further.