Pencil grips: do they work, what one is the best for my child and what do they actually do? Discover everything you need to know to improve handwriting.
Have you ever thought about pencil grips? Admittedly it is not your everyday topic of conversation unless you have seen a child hold their pencil awkwardly. I am often getting asked about pencil grips, whether they work, what one is the best and what do they actually do?
Here I am going to explain 5 common pencil grips and what they are best for.
The purpose of the pencil grip is to help a child develop a tripod (three fingered) pencil grip. Once mastered they can draw, colour and write without experiencing pain or discomfort when writing.
The purpose of the pencil grip is to help a child develop a tripod (three fingered) pencil grip. Once mastered they can draw, colour and write without experiencing pain or discomfort when writing. There is some research suggesting how a child holds a pencil is irrelevant. I disagree with this. If a child cannot hold a pencil in a three fingered grip, they will find it more difficult to form rounded shaped letters. This can slow their writing down or cause them to grip too tightly around the pencil. If this is the case a child will say their hand hurts when writing or they will wiggle their fingers to help the blood flow back to the hand.
Tri-go pencil grip
The tri-go pencil grip has three holes, helping guide a child’s fingers into a tripod grip. Two are the same size; these are for the thumb and index finger. The smaller hole is so that the middle finger can rest under the pencil shaft. They help left and right-hand writers. The plastic is not as rigid as some and it does come in a variety of colours. I find they only work well if all three fingers are placed in the holes. If the thumb remains tucked over the top of the pencil, then this pencil grip makes no difference.
Grippy / Stubbi pencil grip
The grippy is also known as the stubbi. It is made from a rigid plastic material and it comes in a variety of colours. They help left and right-hand writers.
They ideally go over a pencil. I have not tried them with a pen as the hole in the grip looks too small to push the pen through. I think they are quite small and fiddly to use. Personally, I would try placing stickers on the pencil or pen to show a child where to place their fingers.
Foam tube pencil grip
The foam tube acts as a cushion around the pencil. It helps children who grip too tightly when writing and find changing their pencil grip not interesting.
Sometimes an elastic band around the pencil can provide a similar cushioning.
Foam tube pencil grip
The triangular pencil grip is often the one that most people know. It helps guide a child into understanding that their 3 fingers need to be in different parts around the pencil shaft. It has a rigid plastic material and it helps left or right handed writers.
I have seen triangular shaped pens with triangular pencil grips. This is a no, no! Adding one on top of another will not help improve a child’s handwriting.
Ultra pencil grip
The ultra-grip is one of my favourites. It comes in a variety of colours including metallic colours. It is soft and bouncy to touch thus helping those that grip too tightly. It has a bevelled end which helps encourage an open web space between the thumb and the index finger. This space is needed when writing round shaped letters. It can help left and right-hand writers.
Pencil grips for kids, my recommendations
Pencil grips do have a place when teaching a child how to write. However, their real success depends on matching the correct pencil grip for the difficulty your child has. As a handwriting OT I recommend the following:
If it is knowing where to place their fingers then the tri-go, grippy, triangular and ultra-grip will work. If your child holds their pencil too tightly then the foam tube and the ultra might help. If they write with their thumb over the pencil and touching their index finger then either the tri-go, grippy and ultra will help.