At what age should a child hold a pencil correctly?


Most children do not have the fine motor control or strength to hold a pencil using a finger grip until they are 4 years of age. When children begin to use a finger grip, they will usually use all five fingers to grip a pencil (known as an “immature” or five-finger grip). By 5 or 6 years of age, children’s finger muscles are more developed and strong enough to grip a pencil correctly, using only three-fingers – their thumb, index, and middle finger. You may notice that your child switches back and forth between using a five-finger and three-finger grip as they practice writing. Rather than correcting their pencil grip, you can promote the correct grip by doing fun activities that will help develop their hand and finger muscles, such as playing with blocks or doing puzzles. 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

Submit a question for our learning experts.