The five pencil grip developmental stages

Every child is different, developing the skills needed to hold a pencil at a different time to their peers.

There are 5 developmental stages, that your child needs to go through, before they can successfully use a mature tripod grip. They need to work through each stage and as their hand, shoulder and arm strength and mobility increases so does the ability to move to the next developmental stage of the grip.

Age Grip
2 to 4 12 years Stage 1 to 3
3 12 to 5 years Stage 3 to 4
4 to 6 years Stage 4 to 5

Your child may not develop a three-finger tripod pencil grip until they are 5 - 6 years old. This is considered the most appropriate pencil grip, for right and left-handed writers, as it allows the fingers and wrist to work together to provide a more free-flowing movement.

If your child is age 6+ years old and is using a stage 1 to 4 grip then work through the stages one at a time to stage 5. Allow your child to spend at least 3 or 4 weeks at one stage before moving to the next.

If a toddler is taught how to hold a pencil using the tripod grip before they are physically ready, they are inclined to develop a poor pencil grip which is difficult to change once they are older. These grips can make handwriting difficult and less fluid as well as making writing a very tiring task. It can also turn some children off colouring, drawing and handwriting as they are not pleasurable experiences.

Young children need thicker drawing tools, as they can grip them more easily. If the pencil is too thin, they find it difficult to grasp and control, making the drawing experience unsuccessful, which can lead to frustration and discourage them from trying again.