Your child is constantly growing, learning, and developing motor skills that she will use later in life. One of these important motor skills is her pencil grasp. By the time your child is three and half, she should have developed the skills necessary to hold her pencil with her thumb and the pad of her index finger. Below you will find 5 ways to help her develop this skill.
5 Tips for Helping Your Pre-Writer Develop Her Pencil Grip:
- Employ “The Alligator”: Have your child make her hand into an alligator’s mouth, as if her fingers and thumb form the teeth and lips. This “puppet-like” shape will help your child to grab onto a pencil, crayon, or marker using the pads of her fingers. Instruct your child to place the marker in the alligator’s teeth and to keep the alligator’s mouth (web space) open.
- Use Stickers: Place 2 stickers near the tip of your child’s markers. These stickers will serve as a visual cue for your child when she is picking up the marker. This additional cue may help her to remember where to put her fingers and to use her thumb and pointer finger together.
- Keep Supplies Her Size: Give your child various small supplies, such as short pencils (much like the ones you find at the mini-golf course), broken crayons, or short markers. Since your child’s hands are much smaller than your own, giving them supplies that are just their size will make it easier for them to use a more refined grasp.
- Use Lacing Cards: Engaging your pre-writer in activities that don’t involve a pencil or paper can also help her to develop her grasping skills. Pick up some lacing cards (you can also use cardboard and a hole puncher to make your own). Encourage your child to hold a shoe-lace with her thumb and pad of index finger as she weaves it in and out of the holes. This activity helps to develop her visual-motor skills that are so important for writing.
- Rip Paper: Ripping various thicknesses of paper is a fun way to engage your child and develop her fine motor strength simultaneously. You can make confetti or a mosaic art project. Encourage your child to grasp the paper with both hands using her thumb and pointer finger. This activity also requires your child to use both hands together, which will develop her bilateral coordination skills.
Providing your pre-writer with a variety of opportunities to practice her grasping skills, with and without a pencil, will help her to more appropriately develop her pencil grasp. Happy Grasping!
For further exercises to develop motor skills, read 5 Everyday Items to Re-Purpose for Fine Motor Exercise. To learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Occupational Therapy Program, click here.