Works For Me: Teaching a Child To Hold a Pencil

Wfmwheader I cannot take an ounce of credit for today’s little tip–my son’s preschool teacher taught it to me years ago.  It’s such a good one, I couldn’t keep it to myself.

You probably know how hard it can be to communicate to a child exactly how a pencil should sit properly in his or her little hands.  My son’s teacher told me to do it this way:

1.  Take a Kleenex and tear it two pieces (a full Kleenex is too large, so just use the half piece for this trick.)

2.  Have the child pinch the Kleenex piece in his/her pinky and ring finger, like this:


3.  While the child is still pinching the Kleenex in those two fingers, tell him to hold the pencil in the remaining three fingers.


4.  Remarkably, as long as the Kleenex is still "occupying" their 4th and 5th fingers, the child will naturally hold the pencil the right way. 


Really!  It works!

If you have a tip you’d like to share with Bloggityville, just leave your link below.  WFMW guidelines can be found here

Please, please, PRETTY PLEASE, link directly to your WFMW post and not to the front page of your blog.  Here’s how you do that. 

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77 thoughts on “Works For Me: Teaching a Child To Hold a Pencil

  1. Mandy says:

    Man, I wish I’d heard this tip when my little ones were littler! My youngest was the hardest one–she always did the “fist” method. Thanks for a great tip.

  2. Sincerely Anna says:

    That is a great tip! I have problems because I can’t do the steps here. And I’ve never hed my pencil the “right” way. I think I could’ve used this tip when I was in kindergarten! I will definitely use it when I help my son!

  3. Look, Mom, Look! says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I was having a really hard time showing my 4 year old how to properly hold a pencil. I will definitely try it this way.
    Also, I made a mistake and linked twice to WFMW. Sorry!

  4. Barbara H. says:

    Oops — I forgot to put my synopsis in parentheses behind my name in “Mr. Linky.” It used say “delete link?” behind my name but I don’t see it — if you want to delete #25, that’s fine. I added it again on #28 with the subject.

  5. Every Chapter says:

    Hmmm….that’s neat. I’ll have to remember it for when my son is older. Thank you for hosting this- it is such a fun concept. Mine was a little silly this week- but hey, whatever works! 🙂

  6. Corrie says:

    I’m going to see if this keeps my daughter from holding the pencil with both fingers instead of resting it on her middle one.
    Thanks for the tip.

  7. Lynnae says:

    That’s a great tip! Another one I learned from my daughter’s occupational therapist is to have them write with a short crayon or pencil. If there’s not enough pencil for all their fingers to fit around, they’ll hold the pencil correctly.

  8. Michelle at Scribbit says:

    I have to wonder why the great teachers at my kids’ school haven’t used this? It seems so terrific, so perfect and after all the trouble they go to teach proper pencil holding you’d think they’d be all over this. Great tip.

  9. Nancourt says:

    I am another one that did not add my description. I must be out of practice. So sorry…and there is no delete link or edit function. Sorry!

  10. 3foldcord (N Millar) says:

    New blogger here. Forgot to put in my description too! Oh well, theres always again.
    That is a fab tip, Shannon! My son is nearly 6 and still holds his pencil fist-like!
    N Millar

  11. Heather L. says:

    Great tip! I’m going to teach this to my son’s preschool teacher. They’ll have a much easier time with those pincher grasps then! Thanks for hosting!

  12. Cindy says:

    Fabulous idea! Wish I’d had that when I was teaching in my classroom or when I taught my own kids! I’ll be passing that on!

  13. Jessica says:

    Considering I hold my pencil on my ring finger (and I have a callous to prove it) I obviously was not taught correctly! Thanks for the tip…I’ll post it in my mom brain for those days of teaching writing!

  14. Carol says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I am a first grade teacher, and I have never heard this idea. There seems to always be 1 or 2 children who can’t “get it” no matter what I try with them. Thanks for the tip!

  15. tammi says:

    Like so many others, I’ve got a 5-yr old starting K this fall, too, who also hasn’t grasped the correct way to hold a pen or pencil yet. Her 2-yr old sister is a natural, but we’ve tried over and over to teach the older one. I’m definitely going to give this a try today. Thanks for the great tip!

  16. peach says:

    Great idea, friend. Just a couple years too late for us. I actually participated today. Drop by if you get a chance!

  17. Jada says:

    I will pass on your tip to those with little ones! Great tip!
    I actually have another WFMW post! Will wonders never cease??!! This is my second one. LOL

  18. Tracy says:

    Great tip! I have 2 kids that are at the age for this one. I’m participating for the first time today – thanks for hosting!

  19. Monique in TX says:

    I must be creatively stupid. Even with the Kleenex, I found three other ways to hold the pencil that were incorrect…

  20. Tricia says:

    Oh,boy! I am a Pre-K teacher and even though I work on skills to strenghthen fine motor skills some of my students will be ready for this. The kindgergarten teachers will love it. Thanks for the great tip!!!

  21. Tricia says:

    I will get it right next time. I put my subject by my direct link so that made it invalid. My first login was to my main page, sorry.

  22. Ginny says:

    What a cool trick, I could have used that when my 5th grader was in kindergarten! I had issues while pregnant so she was born with week muscles. We thought she outgrew it around 2.5 until she went to kindergarten. Then all that fine motor skills really showed her weakness. Great tip!

  23. Dawn says:

    Great tip! I am going to try this with my two youngest. My oldest’s preschool teachers finally gave up on trying to get him to hold his pencil the right way and said the kindergarten teacher could teach him. I think I’ll give this tip to those preschool teachers, since my daughter will be going there this year.

  24. Anne says:

    Thank you for this tip and in case you didn’t hear it: THANK YOU!!
    I have been teaching for 15 years and have done battle so many times over this very issue…holding a pencil properly. One simple tip has solved a perennial teaching problem. Thank you so, so much 🙂

  25. Sarah says:

    WOW! Great idea! My 4yo has intermittent amnesia with acceptable pencil holding; this would DEFINITELY help on those days when he’s feeling less “recollective” (and I would feel less likely to need ibuprofen trying to help him).

  26. Gego says:

    Now, that is seriously wonderful. I called some Pre-K and 1st Grade teacher friends and they were so excited. They have discovered that when the kids hold the Kleenex with the pinkie, middle, and ring finger,the pencil is easier to manipulate and transfers to holding eating utensils. This method works with either method. Many, many thanks to the teacher who developed this!

  27. Barb says:

    I use two cotton balls instead of a torn kleenex, but the same basic principle. It was taught to me by our school’s occupational therapist a couple of years ago and now I use it with any of my kinder-students who are struggling.

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