Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pencil Grasp Development in Children

A review of pencil grasp development in children is critical as an Occupational Therapist to understand where the child is in pencil grip development and how to best help them to be successful in writing and eventually holding the pencil in the best way they can.
Image retrieved from here

Fisted grasp: Reaching/holding items with entire fist. Pinky will be closest to the paper. 
Pronated grasp: All fingers holding the writing tool, movement comes mostly from elbow at this stage. 
4 Finger grasp: Arc begins to form between thumb and index finger. 
Static Tripod Grasp: Children should be able to copy a diagonal line, a square, a diagonal cross, a circle, a triangle. 
*Quadrapod grip can happen at this stage with the fourth finger involved. 
Dynamic Tripod Grasp: Consistent 3 fingers on the writing utensil. 

"When OTs consider writing as an important early literacy and communication skill in addition to it being a complex fine motor task, their approaches to supporting writing are greatly expanded" (Gerde, 2014). 

According to Bear, children go through stages of on their way to conventional writing such as scribbling, drawing, scribble writing, letter-like formations (shapes that resemble letters such as /, +, and a triangle). and letters. 

Ideas/activities to develop and strengthen thumb/finger muscles from Royal Children's Hospital
Note: Have child use thumb and index finger (as well as middle finger if required). 
  • Finger games: thumb war, itsy bitsy spider 
  • Buttoning clothes
  • Tweezers to pick up small beads or toys--place them into a bowl/container
  • Remove coins one at a time from a bowl 
  • Playdough (roll, squeeze, push, poke) 
  • Tear up collared paper for a collage 
  • Threading beads
  • Manipulating legs 
  • Squeezing clothes pins on/off a rim of a basket/bowl 
  • Sticker play 
  • Spray bottle play with water
Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2008). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. 

Gerde, H. K., Foster, T. D., & Skibbe, L. E. (2014). Beyond the pencil: expanding the occupational therapists' role in helping young children to develop writing skills. Open Journal of Occuaptional Therapy, 2(1). 

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