How do I help my child hold a pencil correctly?

My child’s kindergarten teachers told me at parent-teacher conferences that he doesn’t hold his pencil correctly and often gets tired when writing or coloring for several minutes. I did read some articles and saw some instagram posts that said hand strengthening is really important for these things, which makes sense to me. I have two questions:

  1. What types of play activities can I do with him at home?

  2. If (when) he does develop better hand strength, does that mean his pencil grasp will get better automatically?

@heartsforyou25 This is a great question! The truth is, in order to hold a pencil correctly, a child does have to have adequate strength of the fine muscles in his hands. However, just because hands are strong, doesn’t necessarily mean he will hold the pencil correctly. Kids usually need to be explicitly taught the correct way to hold the pencil. With that said, there are some activities that build strength in the arms and hands so when a child is taught how to hold and manipulate a pencil, he’ll be able to do it more easily.

  1. Shoulder muscles- The shoulder muscles serve as a stable foundation for dynamic movements at the wrist/hand. Challenge and strengthen these muscles by holding yoga poses (downward dog, cobra, table), climbing at the park, and hanging from monkey bars. Activities like swimming and gymnastics can also help to build these muscles.

  2. Hand muscles- Strength and coordination of the hand/forearm muscles will improve precision. Play activities like rolling and squishing play dough, painting with broken q-tips, coloring with small crayons, and creating art projects that include cutting and gluing, all help to develop and strengthen these smaller muscles. Games that incorporate tongs are another great way to separate and strengthen the thumb from the pinky side of the hand in preparation for holding a pencil with a traditional tripod grasp. Here are some of my favorite games:

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So if your son is struggling to hold a pencil you can absolutely do some of the play ideas I suggested above. However, in order to help him now in school, ask if the school OT has some pencil grips he could try out to see if it would help with both his grasp and his endurance while writing.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:

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