hand grasping a pencilPencil grasps develop throughout a child’s preschool years with the tripod grasp being most similar to an adult grasp.

The tripod grasp is a mature grasp pattern that occurs when a child holds their pencil positioned between their thumb and index fingers while the middle finger is used for stability. This grasp emerges between 3 and 5 years old.

Simple Ways to Promote Development of Mature Pencil Grasps

  • Break crayons into small pieces for your child to color with.
  • Have your child pick up small items, such as pom-poms, with tweezers or a clothespin. Encourage your child to use their thumb, index, and middle fingers to open and close the tweezers or clothespin and keep their last two fingers tucked in.
  • Have your child use their thumb, index, and middle fingers to hold their pencil and have them hold a pom-pom in their last two fingers to prevent these fingers from holding the pencil.
  • Encourage your child to rest the pinky finger side of their hand on the paper when writing and coloring to provide stability.
pencil grasps
It is important to keep in mind that not all children will develop the tripod grasp. Having a functional grasp pattern, meaning your child’s handwriting is legible and they do not experience pain or fatigue when writing, is most important.