Tripod Grasp - By age five-six the student should be using a mature 3-finger grasp. In the beginning your child’s fingers will look stiff and he/ she may use more wrist movements to write/color, but as the finger muscles become more skilled he/she will be able to use finger movements when coloring/writing. (The quadrupod grasp, 4 fingers, is considered a functional grasp too).
Strategies to Promote Better Pencil Grasp
- Make sure your child’s wrist is extended (slightly bent backwards). This position allows for optimal use of the fingers. If your wrist is flexed (bent forward) it shortens the tendons and makes it harder for the fingers to use.
- Hold the cap of a marker using the last two fingers to ensure that the first two fingers and thumb are the only fingers holding the writing instrument.
- Push a pen through a toy golf ball (one with holes). Have your child wrap their hand around the ball and place the thumb and index finger on the pen.
- Push a pencil through a small Styrofoam ball. Have your child wrap their hand around the ball and place the thumb and index finger on the pencil.
- Place a tube sock (with one hole cut in the big toe and one in the heel area) over your child’s hand. Have the thumb stick out of one hole while the index and middle finger stick out of the other hole.
- Place a clothespin on the pencil closer to the point. Hold the pencil with your thumb and index finger while wrapping the remainder of the fingers around the clothes pin.
- Use different pencils (i.e., golf pencil, large round pencils, carpenter pencils, triangle pencils)
- Try pencil grips (there are many styles of pencil grips. Make sure to pick one that your child is comfortable with, but also works on keeping their fingers in the correct position).
Scissor Grasp - Scissors should be held with the thumb in the top loop and the middle finger in the bottom loop (or middle and ring finger depending on how big the hole is). The index finger should be placed below the bottom loop to provide stability and directional guidance.
Strategies to Promote Better Scissor Grasp
- To help the students remember to keep their thumbs up when cutting I usually use the phrase, “No chicken wings”. This reminds them to keep their elbows low which makes it harder for them to turn their thumbs down.
- Place rolled up socks in the arm-pit area and try to hold the socks in position while cutting. This helps keep the elbows low and prevents the thumb from turning down
Pincer Grasp - The pincer grasp is the ability to isolate the thumb and index finger to pick up smaller objects. This grasp usually develops between the age of 10 and 12 months. This grasp is important for precise motor control during small motor tasks (i.e., zippering, buttoning, etc.).
Strategies to Promote Better Pincer Grasp
- Place a cotton ball or small object on the ulnar side (pinkie side of hand) and have the child hold the object in place with his/her pinkie, ring, and middle fingers. This position frees up the index finger and thumb to pick up small objects.
- To help the student remember to use a pincer grasp I usually tell them to use their “crab claws”.
- Place a tube sock (with one hole cut in the big toe and a small hole in the heel area) over your child’s hand. Have the thumb stick out of one hole while the index finger sticks out of the other hole.