At TEAM 4 Kids, occupational therapists often assess the grasps kids use to hold onto utensils such as markers, pencils, crayons, forks, and spoons. Writing grasp is an important aspect of fine motor development. Occupational therapists will determine which kind of writing grasp children are using and, depending on the age of the child, whether that grasp is age appropriate or not.
The developmental progression of writing grasp typically starts with a gross, or fisted, grasp around utensils which starts around 12 months and lasts until 15 months or up to 2 years old.
Next, a child’s grasp should progress to the digital pronate grasp, where the point of the marker or pencil is under an extended index finger and the end of the marker is held within the fist. This grasp is appropriate between the ages of 2 and 3.
Between 3 to 4 years old, the next grasp that should emerge is the quadripod, or 3pt, grasp. This grasp is more mature and consists of three fingers—the thumb, index, and middle—all touching the utensil.
Starting at 5 years old, children should begin displaying a tripod grasp, where the pads of the thumb and index finger are touching the utensil, and the pencil rests against the last joint in the middle finger. This is the most mature grasp.
Occupational therapists agree that the quadripod and tripod grasp should both demonstrate adequate “web space”, which is the amount of space between the index finger and thumb when using a mature grasp.