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Duet6v7 - How to hold a pen correctly

Hi all,

We are interested in all of your opinions and your reasons for Pencilsthose opinions on how important is it that a child holds the pen or pencil "correctly" when writing and how would you define "correctly"?

Our daughter is 5 and likes to write a lot - we don't know how much effort if any to put into "correcting" the way she holds the pencil / pen

Any opinions and advice would be of interest and would enable us to pick up the overall general view.

Thanks in advance


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I feel I can answer this for reasons I will outline further.

Does it matter how one holds a cars steering wheel, or how you hold a sword or perhaps even a firearm? If you were having an operation would it matter how your surgeon held his / her scalpel?

Strictly speaking I suppose it does not matter (provided you can prove that your / their method is better or best) however kids are unable to know this or to prove it, and now that I myself have grown up I'm free to change my writing style if I wish to.

When my eldest when to school I noticed that her writing had deteriorated and that she had slipped into what I called "bad pen posture" I talked to the head about this, it's not a problem, it doesn't matter! Well it did to me! I verbally instructed her (the head) to fix the problem, weeks later when there was still no improvement wrote to the head and to the teacher and made my instruction very clear. I also discussed and explained to my daughter why I felt she should hold a pen correctly and offered her a gift / prize if she did so, within a week or two her writing had improved and she held her pen perfectly.

I think that in this instance, my insistence on "good pen posture" has and will help her both now and in later life.

just my thoughts,Feather Pen
Kind Regards



My daughter, a fencer, read this and said, "Of course, you need to hold your sword properly or it will get knocked out of your hand!"

The same goes for penmanship. Improper penmanship will lead to unnecessary pain in the hand and shoulder as well as the sloppy work noted in Roly's comments.

Speaking from experience, it is much easier to build good habits now while the writers are young and enthusiastic rather than try to correct the position of the hand or paper once the improper habits are formed.

We still have times when we get lax and have to remind ourselves about "PPP" (proper penmanship posture). Recently my dau. likened penmanship to learning vibrato on the violin. You learn to wiggle that finger just right, then you get so good at wiggling it goes right out of control and you have to consciously bring it back in to control again. Better to teach the controls early!

We have used Bob Jones writing program and the books show models of how to hold the pencil and how to set your paper. You may be able to find things on the internet to help.

Here is one site that offers help and suggestions

There's bound to be more.


When my 3 year old started writing on his own, I thought it was great and let him go at it with no correction. Now that he's 11, he still makes his letters starting from the bottom, instead of the top. I had thought this would be corrected when he received instruction, but it was too late!! I'm not sure this is a big deal, it doesn't seem to handicap him, but the lesson to be learned it, if it matters, correct it from the beginning.


My daughter started writing little stories and letters when she was 4. She used to have a real excitement for writing. Whenever we came home from doing something she thought was exciting she would rush to her desk and write about it.

When she turned 5 I thought that I should sit down with her and teach her how to print 'correctly'. Unfortunately this squashed her desire to write spontaneously. All of a sudden writing wasn't fun anymore and wasn't something that she would choose to do independently. It's taken over a year and a half from that point for her to enjoy writing again. I didn't push 'proper' printing until a few months ago and I didn't require a lot of writing with regards to her 'school' work. I asked her to start writing a daily journal a few months ago and at the same time we got some great advice on how to approach printing. I set the timer for 5 minutes and once the timer goes off she is done. We talk about which of the letters were done properly and she shows me which ones weren't quite up to par and why. After a few hard days of complaints ('I can write neater when I hold my pencil the old way!') her pencil grip improved and so did her printing. We still have a long way to go but I realize that I did make a mistake initially. She has started writing a collection of stories about a chic. I'm so pleased to see her enjoying the writing process again.

I think my mistake had a lot to do with pushing too early, but it also had to do with my approach. The 'five minutes and then it's over' thing has been a big success. I think that with my son I'm going to let him enjoy writing for a lot longer before I start any sort of structured practice with him. And when I do start I'll be more sensitive to his needs than I was with Abbie.



There is no real definition of 'correctly' - several variations seem to be acceptable in schools. I wouldn't personally 'correct' a child's pencil position, unless it was obviously awkward - in which case it would be more showing them an easier way. Children usually self-correct at least somewhat, and find their own styles - but there are no moral rules about how to hold a pencil! A grip should be comfortable for the child, and near enough the point that it's well-controlled (not like a paintbrush doing water-colour washes, for instance). But each hand is built differently, and what works well for one may be very awkward for another. Too much pressure on 'right' styles (like 'right' formation of letters) can put a child off the pleasure of writing.

Sue F



Remember I had requested for the verse on "How to hold a pen?" sometime back...a couple of months maybe? Well, I finally found it...praise God! I got it from a friend who found it in the Bodelian library in England. Here it is:

Between your thumb and two fingers place

Your pen to write with comlines and grace;

Your thumb first aloft, as highest bestowe,

Your forefinger next, your middle finger belowe.

Hold softly your pen, lean lightlie thereon,

Write softlie therewith, and pause thereupon.

For swiftness will come of itself anon,

Ill tricks are soon caught, but not so soone gon.

- From the Writing Schoolmaster by Peter Bailes, 1590

Notice the old spelling...these are not spelling mistakes!

Hope you enjoy it...and share it! Bye!

Mohan Devdas


FEEDBACK from readers about the correct way to hold a pen or pencil

This following comments and feedback have been recieved from readers raise some fair points about her pencil posture.


There is not really a correct way to hold a pencil. Even though it does matter what way you do some other things a pencil is not one of them. When I went into 1st grade they always wanted me to hold my pencil the "correct way", but it wasn't compftorable for me at all, but years went by and now im in 7th grade and it doesn't really matter what way I hold my pencil. Alot of people hold there pencil a diffrent way they do whatever is comptorable for them. Maybe to others it matters how there child or student holds a penci, but to me and some other people when holding a pencil there really isn't a correct way. Jackie S :) - Mon Nov 24 2003


When I was in 3rd grade my teacher akI hold my pencil with middle finger, pointer finger, and ring finger on top, and with my thumb and pinky on bottom. I write neater and faster than most kids so I guess it works for me, though it does make my pinkey get sore sometimes. I used to hate it when teachers would try to show me the "correct way", I saw just let kids hold it however they want. - Tue Aug 24 2004


I have been a teacher of young children for 10 years. (The last grade that I taught was second grade.) I have found that children that hold a pencil with two fingers on the top experience must more hand discomfort and fatigue as they progress through school. Pencil grip does make a definite difference in the classroom. - Tue Sep 14 2004


Take a look at NELSON HANDWRITING. This shows how to hold a pen or pencil correctly - Sun Oct 17 2004


I think that there is no right or wrong way to hold a pen/pencil... people say I hold mine oddly... but hey it works for me, and people always tell me how neat and nice my hand writing is. You see I hold mine with my thumb and the finger beside my pinky, my forefinger and middle finger are above these. - Sat Nov 27 2004


How you hold your pencil is important. It has been scientifically proven that the widely known proper tripod pencil grip is the most efficient because it requires less energy and allows the greatest amount of movement and precision. This grip uses fine motor skills but many people just never reach this point. DJ - Sat Mar 19 2005


I have no real imput on what exactly is the 'right' way to hold a pencil, but I must speak from personal experience. I am 25 right now, and I actually stumbled onto this website in search of information to reteach myself how to hold a pencil right. I have always held a pencil between three fingers with it resting on my ring finger. Over the years my hand and forearm have started to cramp quickly and cause considerable pain when I write. (This especially started in college with the ammount of writing involved in taking notes quickly) I am not sure what all is going on, but I know that I need to change things now. I believe that it is a combination of how a child holds a pencil and also how hard they press that matter. I do both wrong and it has caused me problems. It will definitely be a hard habit to break! Sincerely, Christine - Tue May 10 2005


I have an eleven year old who writes well holding his pen properly, he is swift, clear and can write for ages without tiring. My two other children do not hold the pencil in the traditional 'correct' position and tire easily, have less control, and are slower writers. I think it is essential to have proper 'pen power' as when they get to the stage when they have to take notes quickly (at university) in a clear enough manner to read back, holding the pen properly will prove beneficial and help to prevent writers cramp. The most important things are legability and speed - these are more easily achievable in the proper position. Observe any classroom full of 10-11 year olds - it speaks for itself!! I therefore am endeavouring to get the other two children to change their habit... Margaret Brown - Thu May 12 2005


Hi, I haven't read all of these comments, but I will give my 2 cents on the matter of pencil/pen holding. I am currently in 9th grade and I have struggled a lot on the matter of pencil/pen holding. Though some might laugh or not care about the fuss about pencil/pen holding, I do. I remember in 6th grade, one of my three teachers, the Language Arts teacher would always make a fuss about "correct" pencil holding. I didn't really care back then about it. My parents tried to help set the example of how to hold a pencil/pen correctly, but after looking at my dad writing a different way, I decided it was okay to mimic him. I believe that kids learn better from what their parents do then what their parents say sometimes. I believe that parents shouldn't be hypocrites about doing one thing while they are doing another thing. It can really confuse their children. I also struggle with being a hypocrite a lot of times, and maybe that's just human nature. I'm remembering the saying, "Easier said then done." -Miss Bruni - Tue Dec 20 2005


I hold my pen funny, I am 25, I am fine...... You are making children feel bad about themselves because now they are feeling as if they've done something wrong. Why dont you just call them "fatty fat fat fat" to get them to lose weight, there needs to be home schooling for parents, fo reals. - Sat Jan 14 2006


Millions of parents are interested in helping children understand and practice "proper pencil grip" ; here is an interesting website : . This website introduces " Writegrip". Praise the Lord! - Tue Jan 24 2006


I am in my Junior Year of high-school and I hold my pen in a strange kind of way. When people see the way I write they always comment and ask "ooo how do you write like that it's strange I never saw anyone write like that." I mean I write very very neatly and I'm so comfortable in the way I write. However, it really bothers me when people ask that. It's like who cares mind your own business. Like why do people have to ask such a question. I used to not even look at the way people write but then I realized that it really bothered me all those questions about my pen grip. After that I really observed how people hold their pen. I realize that there are like 4 "normal" ways to hold a pen. I try to mimic some ways because I don't want to get the same questions again on how I write so if they see me write like that they will think I write normal. It's not that comfortable to write that way because I am used to write the way I normally write. I wish I can write normally but what does it matter I have such a neat handwriting who cares right? - Thu Jan 26 2006


Joanne Letherbarrow Hello. My son is 5 years old and has just started school. He is doing well, the only problem is that he is, and always has, held a pencil in a 'fist grip'. His teacher says that this has to be corrected or his school work will fail. He is also left-handed. Are there any excercises we could do to correct this problem? Thank you, Joanne Letherbarrow Sydney, Australia - Fri Feb 03 2006


Yeah okay Mr/Ms. "Homeschooling for parents"... Did you read the other stuff on this page with stories of people being in pain because they held their pencils whatever way they wanted? Correcting someone doesn't automatically make him/her feel bad. The Draw Your World website has a story about carpal tunnel syndrome onset & recovery which occured (at age 35!!) when "incorrect" method was changed to the tripod method. Maybe I shouldn't waste my time with someone who leaves such an unintelligent post as that last one ("fatty fat fat")....M. Healy Sat Feb 4, 2006 - Sat Feb 04 2006


Incorrect pen grip is often caused by weaker muscles in some fingers and usually results in extra strain on other muscles and structural problems, often the first finger. Pen grip can and should be corrected to prevent strain and future physical problems. Carrots (rewards) are better than sticks: (the principle works with adults and children) but squidgey pen grips and funky pens also help. If there is a real problem, see an occupational therapist for advice about sqeezing pegs and getting the digits fit to write. Clare, Feb 6th 2006 - Mon Feb 06 2006



I am reading this with my son who reported problems with his exams due to slow handwriting and fatigue. This made me think a little more about his teachers' comments about working faster - previously put down to inattentiveness. When I asked him to practice writing more quickly, I was embarrassed to notice that he held his pencil awkwardly with two fingers and thumb and pencil resting on 4th finger! So two questions 1 - I have seen ads for pencil grips. Any feedback? Do they help? 2 - My son is suggesting that, at 14 years old, it may be counter productive to try to change his style :-) Does he have a point? - Sat Feb 18 2006


I noticed the letter from Joanne in Australia. I am 27 and left-handed like your son. Left-handed people that I have known including myself do not hold a pencil "correctly". I have known a couple of people who have the "fist grip" and their school work and handwriting are fine. I hold a pencil between my thumb and ring and middle fingers and sometimes with a hook. I am not really sure if your son holding a pen in a "fist" is neccessarily bad. Teachers tried to make me change but I am comfortable the way I have always held a pencil and am an artist now. - Mon Mar 27 2006



Last Updated - Roland Munyard
15th April 2006
11th March 2006


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