The tripod pencil grasp is considered the most "efficient" way to hold a pencil according to those who know.
If you child isn't there yet, get on the phone & call the nearest occupational therapy center immediately! Kidding ;) Like most things with children, this develops over time when it is ready to develop. We here in the good ole USofA try to rush this by throwing crayons & other utensils in our children's hands before they functionally ready; hate to tell you, but if your little darling isn't ready to hold a pencil like this it isn't gonna happen.
Here's a diagram I found that shows how a pencil grasp typically develops:
If you'd like to read more about a tripod grasp & it's development, click here. I am not an OT & will not attempt to explain the science behind this. If there's an OT out there reading this that would like to guest post & explain it in detail, shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you. What I am going to do for you is give you some quick & easy things to do to promote hand/finger strength that will help your child build towards the tripod grasp.
Today, we're focusing on the thumb & 1st finger that you'd use to pinch the base of the pencil or writing utensil. These activities will strengthen these fingers & train them to work together.
For this one, you need a pipe cleaner & some beads. Have your child use her thumb & pointer finger to grasp the bead & slide it onto the pipe cleaner.
Lacing cards can also be used, just make sure your child is pinching the end of the string with his thumb & pointer finger.
Pinching Play Doh
We've been over my love for Play Doh & it's learning potential (click here for a recap). Play Doh is great for developing hand strength in general & this activity is no exception. All you do is give your little one a chunk of Play Doh & have her pinch off little pieces using her thumb & pointer finger. This is one that you can incorporate very easily into play so your child has no idea she's practicing anything.
Digging in Clay
Grab some clay (not Play Doh- you want something with more resistance for this one) and sink something small into like beads or coins. Then, have your child dig for those objects using those pincher fingers. This one isn't easy, make sure you soften the clay before giving it to your child otherwise this activity will be super frustrating.You can soften clay by rolling it around in your hands for a few minutes. That's your freebie ;)
Find some child-sized tweezers (mine came in our Play Doh kit) and some of those fluffy pompom balls. Have your child use the tweezers to pinch the pompoms & transfer them into a container.
This one is a little messy but is a double feature: save that old mail that you're going to tear up & let your little one go to town! Have your child maintain that pincher grasp while he shreds. Fun & efficient :)
There you go! Five ways to train those fingers to work together using things you probably already have at home. Next Friday, we're talking grip modifications- come back!