Pencil Grasps For Kids 1-8 Year Olds

Last Updated on November 18, 2022 by ClassMonitor

Pencil grasp development starts at an early age in children ( as early as 12 months old) and is a vital part of childhood development. A child will pick up different grasping techniques as he/she grows up, such as palmar supinate grasp (fisted grasp), digital pronate grasp, tripod pencil grasp, and so on. The techniques change as a child’s motor skills develop.

Pencil grasp development usually has a predictable pattern but the timing may vary for different kids, which is fine! Let’s delve into the different pencil grasps a child should have as he/she grows up in the 1 to 8 age range.

What pencil grasp Should a 1- 2-year-old have?

Palmar supinate grasp: also known as whole hand or fisted grasp. In this primitive stage, a child will use his/her whole hand and grab the pencil with closed fists and use shoulder movement to scribble with minimal wrist movement. The tip of the pencil is at the bottom near the pinky finger.

Challenges Faced

  • A child between 3-9 months old might not have developed or get accustomed to basic object grasping techniques such as crude palmar grasp or raking grasp. Hence, he/she might struggle to grab the pencil correctly.
  • Inadequate development of finger muscles can also cause difficulty.

Best Practices

  • Children should be exposed to crayons and pencils, and allow them to scribble as much as they want.
  • Don’t force any ‘correct’ grasping technique on them and allow their motor skills and finger muscles to develop and strengthen naturally, through activities such as playing with small toys and objects and random scribbling with crayons or pencils.

What pencil grasp Should a 2- 3-year-old have?

  • Digital pronate grasp: as the hand gets stronger and better control over the arm muscles are developed, a child will use his/her fingers to hold the pencil. The tip of the pencil is on the thumb side and the hand is downward facing. This type of grasp is more efficient and stable than the palmar supinate grasp as the child will also use his/her forearm and wrist.

Challenges Faced

  • A kid can suffer from lack of coordination and struggle to hold a pencil or crayon for an extended duration due to fatigue, and thus retort to an incorrect grasping technique to compensate for the same.
  • Weak shoulder, arm and/or finger muscles can also cause discomfort in children when they try to use this technique as compared to the palmar supinate method, more muscles are utilised.

Best Practices

  • It is essential to strengthen finger muscles and improve coordination between each finger as they are utilized together. Allowing kids to fiddle around with small tools such as tweezers or tongs, spray bottles, squeezable ketchup bottles and toys can be beneficial.
  • Basic challenges such as writing simple words and short sentences, and drawing basic shapes will also help in improving coordination.

What pencil grasp Should a 3- 4-year-old have?

  • Static tripod grasp: as the name suggests, three fingers are used to hold the pencil i.e. the index, middle and thumb finger. The index and thumb fingers pinch the pencil near its tip while the middle finger is used to rest the pencil on. Wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder movement is prominent with the fingers remaining static.
  • Quadrupod grasp: similar to the tripod grasp with the ring finger also being utilised. The index, middle and thumb fingers pinch the pencil while it rests on the side of the ring finger.

Challenges Faced

  • A child may not use the tripod grasp if he/she is accustomed to grasping pencils incorrectly or has weak arm strength. He/she might also find the grasp to be uncomfortable.

Best Practices

  • Regular practice is important to refine a kid’s writing skills at this stage. Activities such as drawing, tracing, dot to dot etc. are few good ways to help with the same. Enforce the correct grasping technique through these activities.
  • Playing with playdough/clay and painting can help develop hand strength and improve coordination.

What pencil grasp Should a 4- 6-year-old have?

  • Dynamic tripod grasp: the most mature grasping technique. Dynamic tripod grasp affords better precision and support when writing or drawing. The pencil is held at an angle with dynamic finger movements and minimal wrist and forearm motion.
  • Lateral tripod grasp: the thumb is pressed against the pencil in a wrapped position with the middle and index fingers moving the pencil. This technique is also known as thumb wrap grasp.
  • Dynamic and lateral quadrupod grasps: both are similar to their tripod counterparts with an additional fourth finger i.e. the ring finger also coming into play to hold the pencil.

Challenges Faced

  • Weak hands and underdeveloped motor skills can cause fatigue and discomfort in few children trying to adapt to the tripod or quadrupod grasp. They may struggle to utilise finger movements because of weak finger muscles.
  • t might be possible that a child is using his/her non-dominant hand to write. Between 4-6 years of age, a clear hand preference is generally established, yet he/she may have been taught and encouraged to use the non-dominant hand when writing, leading to difficulties.

Best Practices

  • Use small crayons or pencils to naturally encourage a tripod grasp.
  • Encourage writing or drawing on vertical surfaces such as on a blackboard to strengthen and stabilise arm, shoulder and wrist movement.

What pencil grasp Should a 6- 8-year-old have?

  • Tripod pencil grasp: at this stage, children can hold the pencil with ease using only three fingers. They utilize finger and wrist movements exclusively to write and draw. As both hand and eye coordination develop significantly, kids can write normally and draw various things.

Challenges Faced

  • In school, children are given various writing and drawing tasks and activities to do and complete all the time. If they struggle with using correct pencil grasping techniques, they will resort to incorrect methods to get the job done.
  • They might also observe incorrect grasping techniques being used by other children in their vicinity. Thus, these scenarios can lead to them adopting distorted or dysfunctional grasps (such as fisted grasp).

Best Practices

  • Identify and monitor the type of grasp a child is using at this stage. If he/she is using an incorrect technique, identify it to determine the reasons such as discomfort, fatigue or frustration which might be linked to underdeveloped coordination, weak muscles or using the incorrect method for a prolonged period without any supervision.
  • Encourage regular practice to rectify a child’s grasping technique. Motivate him/her to tolerate any fatigue or frustration that may arise and to overcome these issues, such as through positive reinforcement.
  • If he/she is still having trouble developing a mature grasp, specialised pencil grips can be utilised to train the fingers into the desired position.


We have looked at the various pencil grasps that children generally develop and use at different ages, and what possible challenges they might face. We also explored the best practices that can be followed to develop correct pencil grasping techniques in different age groups.

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