2nd grade hopes and dreams, PragmaticMom

My Son’s Hopes and Dreams for 2nd Grade

Awkward Pencil Grip and What to Do?

My son’s 2nd grade hopes and dreams are poignant to me. We think his handwriting is excessively neat but clearly he’s worried about it because he created this for Parent Curriculum Night at school.

2nd grade hopes and dreams, PragmaticMom

The issue is his awkward pencil grip. He grabs the pencil with a caveman-like grip using all his fingers. The irony is that he had a traditional pencil grip in preschool.

In fact, as a 15-month-old baby, he amazed his Korean grandmother with his proficient use of chopsticks which he held correctly. Can a child lose his fine motor skills so easily?

At age eight, he doesn’t use chopsticks properly anymore reverting to the stab and poke method of a single chopstick and his pencil grip is also different.

He tells us that it feels more comfortable to hold his pencil in this full grab mode.

Anyone have advice? Should we try fat pencils or pencil grips?

Should we not worry about it and assume he will outgrow this, as in “this too shall pass?” In bringing up his pencil grip, are we making worry needlessly?

He’s our youngest so we tend to worry the least about him as parents. 🙂


p.s. I love how he erased the word “bad” from his description of his handwriting.


Follow Up to Holding Pencil Incorrectly:

Thank you to all the readers who gave such great advice. I met with his teacher for our usual parent/teacher conference and she said that a triangle grip might help. My son was thrilled to use the grips (the ones I bought doubled as erasers — who knew?!) and he has a stash at home and at school. He says it’s more comfortable to write. He also likes the built-in eraser. PickyKidPix says that the round, squishy pencil grips at Lakeshore Learning are better so I will try to buy some of those as well. I just want to make sure his hand doesn’t get tired. He is writing a lot more in 2nd grade!

These are the grips I bought.

These grips are ergonomically designed. I might try these later.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Our son has never held his pencil properly he is 8 and in 3rd grade. We have tried several grips and the yoro pencil. I spent a small fortune to ship the later to Qatar. His hand writing sufers if forced to hold a pencil correctly. Only this year was he able to hold a pencil properly. I am hopeful that he might change…

    However, my 46 year old husband has the same grip as our son and as your son. He has been very successful in his career and is a super dad. This makes me no longer worry about our son’s grip 🙂
    Expatdoctormom recently posted…How the environment is increasing your risk for breast cancer?My Profile

    • Hi Ex Pat Doctor Mom,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am going to back off and not worry about his grip. And I just told him (thanks to my great reader advice!) that his writing is beautiful and he shouldn’t be concerned either. He says when he has to write a lot, his hand gets tired and that is why he made it his hope and dream for 2nd grade. Poor thing!

      • PS forgot to say, I agree with the rest your son’s writing is impeccable. Now I am a bit worried for my son whose printing is horrible by comparison. Particularly as you say it affects your daughter’s grades. Currently, they are not graded in regard to handwriting.
        Expatdoctormom recently posted…How the environment is increasing your risk for breast cancer?My Profile

        • Hi Expatdoctormom,
          I think just for standardized tests, if a child’s handwriting is difficult to read it might affect their score. The essays and open responses get graded by these huge “boiler room” grading subcontractors who, I can imagine, get fatigued reading piles and piles of kids’ tests. It’s not fact; just my opinion. Wouldn’t you think if you were a grader and were struggling to read someone’s writing, and having difficulty, that they are not answering the question perfectly according to the grading rubric?

  2. Dee

    I only wish my 10-year-old’s writing were half as good! I don’t doubt he will get there. His writing is neat so that’s half the battle. My son’s grip appears normal, but the writing is barely legible. Letters are all different sizes and there’s very little spacing between words. Couple that with the fact that he HATES to write (both physically and mentally) and it’s a huge challenge for him with school. Not at all unusual for ADHD. I wish they did more creative writing projects because that turns him on so much that he overlooks how much he hates to write.
    Dee recently posted…You are not alone!My Profile

    • Hi Dee,
      It’s a little strange that there is so much emphasis on neat handwriting in school when in the real world, everyone is on a computer typing. I think handwriting does count for standardized test essays though. My oldest has a correct pencil grip but sloppy handwriting and I suspect it affects how she gets graded. My middle kid has very neat handwriting and I truly think it helps her score well. I wonder if in 100 years, kids will all be typing on techy tools and no one really writes anymore because it’s considered too slow.

  3. Hi Mia, I have never taught handwriting but your son has gorgeous handwriting. I really wouldn’t worry about it. I never learned how to hold a pencil correctly and my handwriting is fine. I think it matters less that one holds a pencil the “right” or conventional way as that one holds a pencil in a way that is comfortable to oneself. If the “full grip” mode is clunky and makes his writing slow, I’m sure he will eventually develop a grip on his own that makes writing faster.
    But, because he has taken the time to write a whole project about his handwriting, he must be concerned about it. I would talk to him about why he feels this way and assure him he doesn’t need to worry and that his handwriting is beautiful just the way it is. Best of luck 🙂

    Posted by Alexandra Lees

    From my LinkedIn Group Elementary School Teachers of America
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…My Son’s Hopes and Dreams for 2nd GradeMy Profile

    • Hi Alexandra,
      Thanks so much for your advice. I think I got him worried about his handwriting because his end of the year school evaluation mentioned that his handwriting was neat but his grip was “awkward” and then I noticed that he gripped it like a club with all four fingers which he had never really done when he was younger.

      You are right. I am going to tell him right now that he can write anyway he likes and that his penmanship is beautiful.

      • I’m so glad to hear that 🙂 I think that will make him very happy.
        Posted by Alexandra Lees

        • He just said that his handwriting gets messy when he writes a lot. Thanks for your advice. He was quite happy to know his writing is just fine!

          • Excellent video and advice, Mia!! I addressed “Writing Problems” in my teacher’s editions of “The Five Finger Paragraph” books, not about problems with writing paragraphs and essays (the whole BOOK is about that!), but about the PHYSICAL problems that a student can have with holding the pencil and the act of writing with that pencil itself. Thanks for the new insight into how to get them to grip it properly!! ( http://thefivefingerparagraph.com )

            Posted by Johnnie Lewis

            From my LinkedIn Group Elementary School Teachers of America

          • Hi Johnnie,
            Thanks for suggesting your great resource. I’ll repost your comment onto my blog to share it!

          • P.S. His printing is almost PERFECT!! I wish mine could do that!

            Posted by Johnnie Lewis

            From my LinkedIn Group Elementary School Teachers of America

  4. Asianmommy

    Wow–his penmanship is perfect! I’m impressed.
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  5. Ann

    Hmm, we have the same issue. My daughter gets tired writing pretty quickly so I guess we should work on it too.
    Ann recently posted…It’s a BlurMy Profile

  6. Thanks, Mia! I look forward to more comments about his progress, especially with his auspicious beginning!

    Posted by Johnnie Lewis
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Charities for Kids to SupportMy Profile

  7. Thanks Johnnie,
    I’ll keep you posted!
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Charities for Kids to SupportMy Profile

  8. We had a teacher focus on our older daughters unconventional grip in first grade. I never notice and since I’m a lefty and both kids are right handed I just let them evolve naturally. My husband also held his pencil the same way so I felt it wasn’t an issue. But, the class teacher and then the resource teacher, who had recently attended a handwriting seminar, wouldn’t let it go and it started freaking out my daughter.

    The resource teacher actually threatened to remove her writing support if she didn’t conform to using a pencil grip. I nearly fell off my chair when I heard that from my daughter – needless to say I spoke to the Principal right away and took her out of the school resource program (and decided on private tutoring.)

    I also decided to take my daughter to an OT professional (Occupational Therapist) to do a proper assessment of her skills. We got to the pro’s advice who they said there wasn’t anything wrong but did noticed that her thumb muscle wasn’t fully developed yet so she wouldn’t be able to please the teachers no matter what she did. With facts backing up a professional assessment I felt better about how to support my child.

    We worked on the real issue and strengthened her hand. It wasn’t a matter of how she held her pencil but rather how to build her muscle. Best yet we got a note written to the school that they needed to let us work on her skills and to stop focusing on the handwriting until she was physically ready. Fast forward a few years and she’s doing great. We haven’t had a teacher talk about pencil holding since then and she still holds her pencil the same way she always did.

    I have great respect for teachers and would have probably been more open to their comments if they were made in a more open, supportive and respectful way. Sometimes being in a classroom with your child they may see something you don’t but ultimately it is the parents responsibility make the call and sometimes a second opinion helps.
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    • Hi Stephanie,
      I never thought to check with an OT about his muscle development but your personal experience is so helpful and I thank you for sharing your story with me! His teacher suggested the triangle grips and we are going to use those.

      But now that you mention it, he has a very unusual thumb in that it goes back way farther than a normal thumb. Almost double jointed. I wonder if there is some muscle issues that allow for that super bendy-ness.

      I did not even think of OT but now I’m going to look into it. Did you daughter just do certain exercises in a fun way to strengthen it?

      Thanks so much for your advice. I truly appreciate it!

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