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Parents Beware – The ‘Thumb Wrap’ Pencil/Pen Grip Is Making A Return

Did you know that one of the most important tools for success is a good pencil/pen grip? It increases the speed and fluency of writing. Furthermore, research has shown the greater the quantity of work produced, the better the quality.

Many children are taught and master the dynamic tripod grip when they start school. This grip, viewed as the “Holy Grail” of grips, is where the child holds their pencil/pen with their index finger, middle finger and thumb.

However, there appears to be a strange phenomenon where older primary school children are reverting to the thumb wrap grip. The thumb wrap grip is similar to the dynamic tripod, but the thumb wraps itself around the pencil/pen and index finger. The wrist is also extended (bent up).

Thumb Wrap Grip

Dynamic Tripod Grip

Why Could The Thumb Wrap Grip Be A Problem?

Current research on pencil/pen grip styles has revealed that individual styles do not affect legibility. However, it has been noted that the dynamic tripod grip results in significantly less grip force and axial force (pencil/pen point pressure) than the thumb wrap grip.

Thus, the thumb wrap grip may lead to a decrease in speed and efficiency and cause pain in the hand when writing for long periods. Other difficulties include decreased control (difficulty keeping the pencil/pen where you want it on the paper) and premature writing fatigue.

Let’s Look At The Thumb Wrap Grip In More Detail

The tip of the thumb bends over the pencil and index finger, giving the child a firm and stable grasp. However, instead of using the opponens pollicis muscle to grip the pencil/pen, the child uses the adductor pollicis muscle.

While this grip helps to keep the child’s hand from slipping, it does not allow for quick pencil movements. Furthermore, children using this style of grip are often less comfortable drawing lines and basic shapes or underlining words, which are obscured by the palm of their hand.

How To Help Your Child If They Are Using The Thumb Wrap Grip

If your child is using the thumb wrap pencil/pen grip, there are some things you can do to help them improve their grip.

Thumb Strengthening Activities

  1. Cut or tear some paper. Use different types and textures.

  2. Use a hole punch on paper to make holes or create patterns.

  3. Roll out playdough with a rolling pin using both hands.

  4. Push small objects, coins, pieces of Lego or cutters into playdough.

  5. Put coins into a piggy bank.

  6. Pop bubble wrap with your fingers.

  7. Play board games with objects that you need grasp and move with your fingertips.

Improve Dynamic Tripod Grip

Help your child to practise writing with a pencil/pen and using the dynamic tripod grip. You can use tools such as handwriting grip tools or special pens and pencils.

The Stabilo EASYgraph is also a great pencil. It has grooves for thumb and index finger placement to help children learn to writing using the dynamic tripod grip in comfort and with ease.


There you have it! Some advice on what to do if your child is using the thumb wrap pencil/pen grip. Remember, the most important thing is to talk to your child’s teacher or occupational therapist if you have any concerns. Thanks for reading!

More Curricular offer handwriting training ( and provide research-led assessment and learning tools that make a real difference in the lives of UK children. We are proud to be an award-winning company with a strong focus on customer satisfaction.

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