February 18, 2016
By age 4, a child should be using a tripod grasp, in which the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger with the pencil resting on the third finger, or a quadruped grasp, in which the pencil is held between the thumb, index finger, and the third finger with the pencil resting on the fourth finger. Both the tripod grasp and the quadruped grasp are considered a functional and efficient grasp that will allow for appropriate drawing and writing skills as the child progresses. However, sometimes a child can struggle with developing a mature grasp for many reasons. But do not fear! Here are some simple but powerful tips that will help a child develop a perfect grasp.
- Use Short Writing Utensils
Short crayons and pencils allow for only a limited space that the child can hold the pencil. Therefore, if a child is using a full fist or all four fingers on the crayon, the limited space requires them to use only two or three fingers to control the crayon. You can buy these crayons at specialty stores online or purchase golf pencils at your local golf course. Another financial friendly solution is to purchase regular crayons and break them into halves and thirds.
- Monkey Bars, Bear Crawling, and Yoga
Weight bearing through hands’ research has shown that weakness contributes to incorrect pencil grasp. Therefore, it is important that children have the strength in their shoulder, forearm, and hand in order to develop and use an appropriate grasp. This can be done in a number of ways just as long as the child is putting weight through their entire arm. Some good suggestions include monkey bars, bear crawling, and yoga. These activities also contribute to the development of the arches of the hands, which will also encourage a more mature grasp.
- Fine Motor Games
Simple games or tasks that require a child to use the small muscles of the hand will also help to promote grasp development. There are several varieties of games that can be purchased at the store, like “Operation,” “Bed Bugs,” “Scatterpillar Scramble”, and many more. However, for a budget friendly solution, you can make your own! Clothespin, tweezers, child chopsticks, and chip clips are easy hand strengthening tools that can be used to pick up small items, like puff balls, beads, and plastic insects, and then released into a bowl or container for a quick, easy and fun task for a preschooler.
If a child has not developed a tripod or quadruped grasp by the time that he or she starts kindergarten (around age 5), then the child may need skilled occupational therapy intervention to assist with grasp development.
If you are in need of pediatric therapy services, please contact us today!