Is tripod grip the proper pencil grip?

What is the proper pencil grip?

Is it the tripod grip that children should learn?

If you have a toddler, you might be wondering what the proper pencil grip is.

A BBC article about Ofsted saying that reception children should be taught to grip a pencil inspired this post. I checked the comments under the article and one person said, that children should be taught the tripod grip.

I do not think this way so this is why I decided to write an article about the “proper pencil grip”.

I recommend you to read my reaction post to that BBC article to gain more understanding what’s happening in the UK’s school system.

How were you taught to hold a pencil?

My experience is that many people, teachers and parents think that children should learn the tripod grip to make their writing fluent. I do not have too many memories of the year when I was learning how to write, but I remember, that I was told how to ideally hold the pencil.

I could not. I tried but I gave up and I think my parents and teachers did not really mind as my writing was nice and I could draw very well, too. I can easily change my grip according to the purpose of the writing or drawing. For example, If I draw or paint on a big scale, I tend to use almost only my shoulder and not my wrist. It allows me to make almost perfect circles and straight lines.

So I consider myself lucky in a way, that nobody forced me to change my adapted pencil grip.

But there are lots of children, who are forced and they might struggle because of that. They might hate writing or drawing because it is linked to a bad memory or because holding the pencil with a tripod grip is tiring.


My advice for parents and teachers:

  • children should use a grip which is comfortable for them
  • that adapted grip should allow children to do small movements: straight and curved lines
  • arms and fingers should not be stiff because children won’t be able to do nice short straight nor curved lines
  • children should see what they write or draw

These are the most important things and forcing our children to use the tripod grip is not one of them.

Let them choose a comfortable grip, which allows them to do straight and curved lines.


How to teach toddlers to use a good grip?

Toddlers tend to use a palmar grip first, but you don’t need to worry about it too much. It will change eventually at the age of 3 and 4.

  • Demonstrate how you write and draw so children will be able to see and maybe copy it.
  • You can correct their grip gently to make them see how their writing or drawing can look different, and probably more effortless.
  • Don’t force them to change their grip, especially if they are comfortable with it. They still should be able to do straight and curved lines.
  • Be patient! 🙂

If you think that your child has difficulties with writing and drawing, this article by Pam Versfeld could be helpful for you.

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Hi, it's Eva and I am an Early Years and Parenting Consultant. Here, I am sharing my knowledge about child development and experience in teaching. Have a look around and follow me on SNS to keep in touch!

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