In all the lists floating around quizzing parents about whether or not their child is ready for kindergarten, one item that may pop up is pencil grasp. Pencil grasp has to do with how your child holds a pencil for writing activities, and how your child grasps his pencil can impact his writing development.
During the early developmental years there is a wide range in what a typical pencil grasp should look like. The picture examples I used above are of my own preschool students. Each student was between three and a half and four and a half years old when I took those pictures (all on the same day). As you can see, even within a group of same aged children, there is still a very wide range of abilities within pencil grasp development.
If a child struggles to maintain the appropriate pencil grasp for her age group, most likely it is due to the lack of strength in the fine motor muscles. In this activity my students were coloring their names, but other fine motor activities might include twisting nuts and bolts, lacing cards, or tweezing small objects into or out of a container.
I never force a child to use a pencil grasp he is not comfortable with. The correct pencil grasp will come. Instead, I incorporate lots of fine motor activities into my preschool program. I find this approach tends to be more effective than trying to force a child into a certain pencil grasp, and I also find it more effective than tracing worksheets (although we do some tracing on occasion).
The following are some of my favorite products I use with my preschoolers to increase their fine motor skills.
As children strengthen their fine motor skills, their pencil grasp will naturally correct itself to the desired tripod grasp so many kindergarten teachers expect incoming students to use. This will make learning how to form letters on paper much easier for those little kinders.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.