Boy is drawing with his craft caddy set from FLEXABoy is drawing at his Dots play table in natural green with the craft caddy set from FLEXA

How to Practise Pencil Grip with Your Preschooler

by Camilla Ejsing

A good pencil grip is not always easy for little hands. Children need to master lots of gross and fine motor skills before they will be able to sit properly, hold the pencil correctly and write. But don't worry, there are lots of fun and super simple ways to practice. Read on for some easy tricks to help your little writer form those first squiggly letters.


  • Fine motor skills such as writing require a high degree of control, precision, and coordination.  
  • The prerequisites for learning fine motor skills are good gross motor skills. 
  • Your child needs postural control and shoulder stability to be able to hold the pencil correctly.  
  • You can help build up your child’s strength and stability by wheelbarrow or crab walking. 
  • And then encourage your little writer to practise the tripod grip with 3 simple tricks.  

Fine Motor Skills Start with Gross Motor Skills 

Sometimes teaching your child how to hold their pencil correctly is not enough to prevent them from holding on too tightly or using the whole fist. This is because your child needs both good postural control and shoulder stability to be able to sit still on a chair, do the tripod grip, and write with control. Occupational Therapist, Camilla Ejsing, explains:  

“Writing requires a high degree of control and coordination. If children have difficulty doing the tripod grip or if they are grabbing the pencil too tightly, they might just need a little extra encouragement and practise.  
However, it can also be a sign that they lack a bit of postural control and shoulder stability. In that case, they might benefit from doing some weight bearing on outstretched arms. You can easily train this by doing some fun exercises together. For example, by lying on the stomach over a large ball with outstretched arms, or by wheelbarrow or crab walking. This is because your child’s fine motor skills start with good gross motor skills.” 

When you think your little student is ready to start practising the pencil grip, the following tips are so simple, your child will quickly be able to do it without your assistance. 

3 Tricks to Practise Proper Pencil Grip 

Camilla Ejsing recommends these three easy tricks to help your child with the tripod grip:  

1. Pick Shorter Pencils or Crayons 

“Shorter pencils and crayons are easier for little hands to manipulate. Try breaking crayons into little pieces and use them for drawing. The pieces should be no longer than 3-4 cm because then they will leave no space for unnecessary fingers. This almost forces your child to hold on by pinching with the thumb and index finger.”  

2. Twist a Hairband Around Your Child’s Wrist

”If it feels okay for your child, use a (not too tight) elastic band around the wrist. Twist the hairband once around the pencil and then around your child’s wrist. The hairband will help keep the pencil in place, while allowing it to slant naturally.”  

3. Have Your Child Hold Something in the Hand

“Have your child hold a little rock, a small ball or a pompom with their little finger and ring finger while writing or drawing. This might teach them to keep those two fingers off the pencil and help them get the tripod grip right.” 

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