If you are a parent to a 2 or 3-year-old child, it’s high time to start monitoring their grasp of objects. Your child’s grasp patterns are an important aspect of their learning and fine motor skills.
It is important for your child to develop fine motor skills through their play. A great way to see the development of their fine motor skill is by observing their grasp patterns.
While correct pencil grasp is not important at this age range, it is important to understand the developmental milestones of grasp patterns.
Therefore, in this post, we will discuss the digital pronate grasp (DPG), how this functional pencil grasp affects your child’s fine motor development and how you can help them improve it. For more information about other grasp patterns and pencil grasp, check out our other articles on pencil grasp.
Why are Grasp Patterns Important?
How does a child’s hold of their writing tools, positively or negatively, influence their ability to participate in academics? Well, just like crawling, walking and jumping, a child’s pencil grasp is one of the developmental milestones that are age-appropriate.
So, by the age of 2 or 3 years old, your child must be able to hold their writing tools using their whole hand with the help of their pointer finger. According to occupational therapists, this kind of pencil grasp is known as DPG.
For kids to learn in-hand manipulation skills such as the DPG, static tripod grasp & dynamic tripod pencil grasp are largely dependent on the development of their pincer grasp, pencil grip & fine motor skills more generally.
Though kids start developing their pencil grasp from the very first time they are grasping objects with their hands, digital supinate grasp is the first matured form of grasp that prepares your child to have control over their writing tools.
This sometimes happens with fingers wrapped, a thumb tuck, or their pinky finger involved, but as they develop a more mature grip their pencil grips and pencil. grasps will mature.
What is Digital Pronate Grasp?
The DGP is a matured pencil grasp compared to a palmar supinate grasp or fisted grasp. This is a stage of pencil grasp development when your child starts holding their pencil, crayon or any other writing tool using their fingers. Here in most cases, their thumb remains near the paper and their pinky at the top of the writing tool.
As mentioned earlier, a child starts developing their pencil grasp right from the moment they first hold different objects like toys or rattles with their hands.
Though this physical development begins at 3–4 months of age, their grasps are mostly weak as their muscles are not as strong for grasping objects properly. Therefore, most babies use their hands and mouth to support those objects. This early stage of grasping is known as palmar grasp.
However, as your kiddo grows, their muscles keep on growing. As the hand, elbow, wrist, and finger muscles become stronger, they can eventually hold an object with their entire hand including the thumb and palm. This particular pencil grasp is known as palmar supinate grasp and it emerges at around 12–15 months when your little one starts scribbling.
The grasp is the second stage of pencil grasp development after palmar supinate grasp. By now, your child’s muscles are a little bit stronger than before, and thus, they can now have more control over their writing tool. In most cases, they learn this kind of grasp by the age of 2–3 years.
In this stage, they hold crayons or pencils using their palms facing down towards the paper. Kids also make use of their fingers and thumb for a stronghold of the writing tool.
The term “Digital Pronate” has been coined from two singular words ‘Digital’ and ‘Pronate’, in which ‘Digital’ refers to the pointer finger or the digit pointing to the fingertips, whereas ‘Pronate’ means the palm facing downward.
It means that in this grasp pattern, the palm remains slightly inward or faces the paper downward and the pencil positioned under it. The tips of the pencil in this grasp are held by your child’s index finger and adducted thumb.
Children using this grasp mostly keep their arms up and control the movement of the pencil through their shoulders. Learning the DPG is essential for the tripod grasp, including the dynamic tripod grasp and static tripod grasp.
The DPG is a transitional grasp between the palmar supinate grasp and the quadrupod grasp. Generally, this grasp begins to develop in children at around 2–3 years of age when they learn to scribble, color and make lines. As these fine motor activities mostly involve larger muscle groups and large strokes, such movements are easier to control with the digital pronate grasp.
Activities To Help Your Child Improve Their Grasp
Helping children with pencil grasp is an important yet complicated matter. Some hold their pencils too tightly and others with immature grasps. Thus, it is important for parents to monitor their pencil grasp from a very early age.
Encouraging your child to participate in pencil grasp activities can improve their grasp and fine motor skills effectively. The fine motor tasks discussed in this article are not designed to help your child build a better pencil grasp but also to have fun.
As a parent and caregivers to support fine motor development is one of the best things we can do for our kiddies!
Here are 5 fun activities to help your child improve their grasp:
- Exercising with Playing Dough
- Exercising with Elastic Bands
- Crafting with Stick Tweezers
- Using Stencils
- Using Chalk and Blackboard
1. Exercising with Playing Dough
The flexibility of the IP joint is important for a strong and mature pencil grasp. Encourage your little one to squeeze and roll the playdough with their palm for better results. Together using their thumb, index, and middle fingers, get them to pull apart.
2. Exercising with Elastic Bands
One of the best ways to improve the strength and flexibility of your child’s hand, wrist, and finger muscles is by making them exercise with elastic bands.
Put elastic around your kiddo’s thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Specifically with their index fingers in an eccentric movement again the elastic bands
As they master this exercise, consider adding more bands to make it tougher for your child to control the finger movements. This exercise can help your little one in maintaining proper space while writing.
3. Crafting with Stick Tweezers
Encourage your child to practice crafts using tweezers. Tweezers help children to develop a strong pencil grasp. To make the exercise effective, consider putting ball bearings in a box and encourage your kid to separate them according to their size and shape using a tweezer.
4. Using Stencils
Make stencils necessary for your child. There are different stencils available in the market. You can provide your child with stencils of different shapes and patterns to make the activity interesting for them.
They can make use of this tool to make different shapes and figures on board or paper. Stencils are great for developing control over their writing tool.
5. Using Chalk and Blackboard
Ask your child to draw figures or patterns on a blackboard with chalks on both their hands. To make the activity smooth and easy, place the board between two tables.
This is a great activity to develop bilateral movement in a child. Remember, if the child holds the chalk properly they will certainly develop their pencil grasp in a short span of time.
It’s never easy to make your child learn the art of grasping a pencil or any other writing tool. However, with the right activity and regular practice they can grasp this art easily with time.
Just remember to add some fun to those activities before encouraging your child to practice them. For more effective ways to improve your child’s pencil grasp, consider consulting an experienced occupational therapist or subscribing to the Ready Kids App for activities to do with your child at home.
35 Activities to Improve Pencil Grasp. (2021). Retrieved 3 December 2021, from https://www.firesara.com/blogs/handwriting/35-activities-to-improve-pencil-grasp-with-things-easily-found-at-homep-with-things-easily-found-at-home
Developmental Progression of Pencil Grasp -. (2021). Retrieved 3 December 2021, from http://mamaot.com/developmental-progression-of-pencil-grasp/
Pencil Grasp Development: What You Need to Know – OT Perspective. (2021). Retrieved 3 December 2021, from https://otperspective.com/pencil-grasp-development/
What is a digital pronate grasp. (2021). Retrieved 3 December 2021, from https://everythingwhat.com/what-is-a-digital-pronate-grasp