6 Tips for Correcting Pencil Grip

Learning the proper pencil grip can be a little tricky for kids–and it’s so important for handwriting! If they learn how to grip the pencil incorrectly and are allowed to continue without correction, it is a hard habit to break. Thankfully, there are methods to correcting pencil grip in kids. It will take some work and reminders, but it can be done. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for correcting proper pencil grip.

6 Tips for Correcting Pencil Grip with helpful how-to videos

Fine Motor Play

Before kids even pick up a pencil they should be immersed in fine motor play. Babies start working on the fine motor skills needed for writing when they start picking up small snacks off their highchair tray. There are lots of basic play activities for developing fine motor skills that can be set up easily with things around the house. See my Developing Fine Motor Skills Series if you need ideas.

Use Smaller Writing Tools

Try giving your child a golf pencil, broken crayon/chalk, or crayon rocks for a twist on the traditional. The smaller size of these items naturally requires children to use the correct pencil grip because there is less surface area.

The Sock Method

It may look silly, but the sock trick is really easy. Just take an old sock and cut two holes. Have your child put the sock on their hand, putting their thumb and index finger through the holes. The rest of the hand can curl up together and take a nap inside.

The Pom Pom Method

Place a pom pom or another small item in between the last two fingers and your child’s palm. This will force your child to keep those extra fingers under and out of the way while they hold their pencil.

The “OK” Method

Tell your child to make the OK sign with their fingers. Tell them to open the circle a little and place the pencil in between their fingers. Then, tell them to curl their other fingers under.

The Pinch & Flip Method

Tell your child to lay the pencil in front of them with the point of the pencil pointing away from them. Tell them to pick up their pencil with their thumb and index finger–this is the pinch part. Then, have them gently push the pencil so it flips around and rests properly. Easy!

After they’ve been shown the correct grip, gentle reminders are appropriate. It may require you to do some “hand-over-hand” instruction (where you physically help them get their pencil grip correct), but with time, they will start to get the hang of it. If your child is having a hard time at the beginning of holding a pencil and writing, I would suggest taking a step back and working on some fine motor skills activities to strengthen their finger muscles and playfully practice pencil holding techniques. Many fine motor skills activities naturally encourage the proper tripod grip. I’ve written about this often, so see my recommended Fine Motor Skills Resource list below.

Recommended Resources for Developing Fine Motor Skills

What are Fine Motor Skills and why develop them?
Developing Fine Motor Skills Series (10 posts with recommended activities & fine motor skills)
The Ultimate Guide to Fine Motor Skills
100 Household Items for Fine Motor Skills
10 Ways to Boost the Power of Playdough
Fizzy Fine Motor Skills Fun

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Comments

  1. These are great ideas — thanks for the video to help explain. I had a difficult time with one little 4-year-old girl this year, and in a pinch I wrapped an elastic band 1/4 way up from pencil tip and told her to pinch/place fingers there, and it worked! I wish I had these other tips when I needed them! Thank you!

  2. love these methods!

  3. Pat Sherrell says:

    As a “lefty” i certainly identified with my left-handed students. Although I never wrote with the “hook”, I had students who tried that method. One day it dawned on me to tell students to “point your thumb to the top of the page.” Whether the child was let-handed or right-handed this method worked. There was no longer the struggle to make the hand look like the one in the picture.

  4. thank you for these! I’ve been using Handwriting Without Tears with my first graders with Autism and it has been amazing in helping them with letter formations. But they are still struggling with the pencil grip. I will definitely try these strategies! My favorite is the pompon ?

  5. On this same note: A retired Kindergarten teacher told me her tip for teaching kids to write / print. She sang them a little song:
    Where do you start your letters?
    At the TOP
    Where do you start your letters ?
    At the TOP
    When you start to write your letters, you’d better, better, better
    ReMEMber to start them from the TOP.

    You can sing the same song for “Numbers.”

    • Any idea what tune to sing this to?

      • Crystal Sutton says:

        It’s to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. We use this in preschool with our Handwriting Without Tears.

    • Yes—this is from Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. Excellent handwriting curriculum—also a cute song for identifying the “top/middle/bottom”—-all of these language concepts are also critical for writing. Also—best to be writing on a vertical surface—-or at least slanted surface to assist wrist in positioning correctly.

    • i learned this song in a class that i took HANDWRITING WITHOUT TEARS. I sing this song to my preschoolers but they don’t seem to know what TOP means! Of course, i have explained TOP and BOTTOM! We are still trying though! Hopefully, it will kick in soon!

  6. Thanks for the great tips! Do you have any suggestions on helping a child who hasn’t decided on a hand dominance yet. My daughter is 3 1/2 and will grab the pencil with whichever hand is closer and holds it a different way each time. Should I be concerned about this or is she still just trying to figure it or on her own?

    • That is a great question, Raeann! Switching hands is often seen in young children. It’s not usually a concern yet at your daughter’s age. However, when she’s in kindergarten it can affect school skills. If your daughter is grabbing things no matter which side they are presented, I would work on some activities that involve crossing the midline. I feel like my answer could get rather long in the comments section here, so I’m going to write a response to you in a blog post. Be on the look out!

  7. Great ideas, will give it a try. Am most greatful for sharing.

  8. I would always break the crayons into small pieces! More to share that way! I also put a small star sticker near the lead of a pencil and told the kids “that’s the thumb spot” to keep them from gripping the pencil too high

  9. We used a store bought rubber thing that attaches to the pencil. The kids placed certain fingers in certain spots and voila!!, it worked great. They used them for a few months and that’s all it took. We bought ours through Amazon. Not sure where else to buy them but I highly recommend them.

  10. Nice to see so many tips in one place! Unfortunately, the pictures aren’t loading for me past the crayon rocks. I tried in a couple of browsers, but they’re just blank space. Any thoughts?

  11. Thanks for the sock method! I’m an OT and have never seen it! I’m going to give it a try with some of my pre’s as they get ready to launch into K.

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