Everyday, Simple Idea #9: Stickers on Pencil

Grip guideI am sharing some of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

#9 Stickers on Pencil

Learning to hold a pencil is a big accomplishment for most preschoolers.  There are many different ways to hold a pencil as children are learning this task, and it is normal to explore and try different approaches.  As children start to learn to draw shapes, pictures, and their names, we want their grasp to be more consistent and resemble a tripod using the thumb, index, and middle finger.

Sticker as pencil guideMost kids will figure out an effective grasp with just a little help from adults and a lot of practice.  However, some kids need just a little extra help.  The first thing I always try is just giving them a visual target about where to put their fingers.  For younger children, I put a sticker around the pencil near the tip- cheap and easy.  For older children, I often use blue painters tape.

I have many families ask me about using a pencil gripper (such as these).  For children with delays in motor skills, a gripper may be helpful if used correctly (but not always needed- simply teaching your child and letting them practice may be more effective).  We want children to have a “mature” grasp or an “effective” grasp that will allow them to efficiently and legibly write.  Each type of gripper has a unique purpose and I would recommend consulting with an OT to see which one fits your child’s needs.  This website lists pros and cons of common pencil grippers.

I have found some success with an alternative to pencil grippers- a pencil holder that goes around the wrist with a bead attached- here is a good video that explains this alternative.

Looking for more information on how to help your child learn to write, check out these posts:

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.