The Importance of Proper Hand Grasp

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Think back to when you were first learning how to write. Did you immediately grab the pencil and start writing perfectly? Probably not. You most likely remember learning how to first grasp your pencil correctly, then tracing letters and words, until eventually you were able to write them out on your own. What you probably didn’t know was that while you were learning to write, you were also working out small muscles in your hand and fingers. This is known as fine motor development and is essential in everyday activities such as writing, feeding, and putting on clothes with buttons or zippers. When kids have fine motor problems, they tend to avoid tasks that are required of them in everyday situations. This often leads to frustration, poor academic performance, and self-esteem issues. First, let’s learn some background information about certain grasps that will help with your child’s handwriting skills!

Types of Pencil Grasps

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Quadruped grasp (3 years old)

pencil held between the index, third finger, thumb, and rests on the fourth finger


Tripod grasp (3-6 years old)

pencil held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil

Want to strengthen your grasp more? Here are some helpful exercises you can do at home!

Activities for grip strength:

  • Squeeze a sponge

  • Carry shopping bags

  • Pour a liquid such as water or milk into a container

  • Getting dressed/undressed by themselves

  • Ringing out a washcloth after a bath

  • Using a spray bottle to water plants

  • Using scissors to cut a piece of paper

Activities for fine motor grip strength:

  • Squeezing soft toys/balls

  • Using a stapler

  • Crumble pieces of paper into balls and then throw them into a basket or trash can

  • Sharpening pencils

  • Picking up small toys with tongs

  • Picking out small objects in putty/playdoh

Activities for gross motor grip strength

  • Playing tug of war

  • Baseball and tennis

  • Riding a bike

  • Using outdoor tools such as a rake or shovel