One of the most common issues facing teachers and parents at the start of our children’s education is:
“How do I get my child to hold a pencil correctly?”.
I know it is a question I asked when my eldest started school.
What I now know is a large part of handwriting is how your child is holding their pencil while they write. But did you know that the building blocks for a good pencil grasp start when a baby is just a few months old?
Crazy, isn’t it?! This is why I bang on about developing and nurturing the pincer grip!
Good development of the pincer grip is the secret to getting our children mastering their pencil grip.
So, what is the pincer grip?
The Pincer Grip or Grasp is the hand grasp that develops around the time a baby is 8-10 months old. This grip develops at around the same time a baby is beginning to feed themselves finger foods. The pincer grip is essential for babies to be able to pick up a small item, pinching it between their index finger and thumb and bring it to their mouth.
In order for our children to master a good pencil grasp, they need to have mastered their pincer grip. It’s that simple.
How do we do this?
Well, it depends on our child’s age.
Encourage Block Play:
Blocks are an incredible versatile toy. Provide your little one with a variety of different textured and sized blocks will encourage them to grasp items with their hands and explore with their mouths.
Introduce Finger Foods and Allow Self-Feeding:
When your baby is ready for finger foods, a great way to promote the pincer grip is simply by providing finger food to bub and letting them practice picking the food up and feeding themselves.
Encourage Board Books:
Board books are not only a great way to encourage language skills but having your little one practice turning the pages is perfect for building the pincer grip. As your baby gets better at this you can introduce books with thinner pages to further develop this skill.
From around the age of 2, we can really have fun with activities to further develop their pincer grip. Now they are a little older we can introduce smaller items to really challenge their grip and help develop that perfect grasp.
Of course, I shouldn’t have to say but just to be safe, these activities should be monitored to make sure your precious little thing doesn’t decide to eat the items!
Pom-poms are so fun, and I don’t know a kid around that doesn’t love them. You can simply get kids to transfer them from one container to another or you can get them to practice their grip during a craft project.
Pom-Poms are also great to help with learning colours and counting.
Play with Tongs:
Tongs are an incredible tool to add to the toy box. You can use tongs alongside the Pom-Pom activity for moving Pom-Pom’s from one container to another or you can have them pick up pretty much ANYTHING! Tongs are a great way to get that pincer grip closer to the right grasp for pencil holding.
Peg Board Fun:
I might be biased, but one of the biggest reasons why I chose to create peg boards was because the impact playing with them had on developing the pincer grip. Pinching each peg and placing it into its little hole not only encourages and develops the pincer grip, it also helps with develop fine motor skills and you can also do some colour recognition as well!
Early School Age:
By this stage, we hope our kids are mastering their pencil grasp, but it isn’t uncommon for some to still be working towards a good pencil grasp.
Some great activities to help them are:
Playing with play dough (or slime if it isn’t banned in your house like it is in mine!) is a great way to promote the pincer grip. You can create lines, shapes, animals, numbers for them or encourage them to create their own designs.
Playing with Beads:
Stringing beads is a harder skill since it requires both hands to be pinching at the same time (one holding the string and one holding the beads). This makes it an excellent activity for both hands to be coordinated. Toddlers can also practice this using larger beads and thicker string such as a shoelace or yarn.
This one is a more grown-up version of the Pom-Pom activity. You can even take it to the next level by creating marble runs.
Yes, I know! Am I crazy? Well, duh! But hear me out!
Peeling stickers off their page and sticking into a book is a great way to develop the pincer grip. This one is a great activity when you are on the go too, as they can peel and stick in the car, at the café or wherever you need 5 minutes peace!
I could go on and on forever here. Honestly there are so many activities that help to develop and support the pincer grip. Even board games!!
I will say our Peg Boards are an incredible tool and asset in the development of the pincer grip and do grow with your child. We have little ones all the way to primary age playing with our pegboards. And because there are no rules, kids can free play and use their imagination to their hearts content! All while sneakily building their pencil grip!! Win win Mums & Dads!!
If you would like to get your hands on one of our incredible high-quality wooden peg boards, simply click HERE to view our ever-expanding range.