Wait, Do I Even Know How to Hold a Pencil Correctly?

Photo: AP Images

Oh good, something to strike vague dread into the hearts of parents, because there isn’t enough of that going around: Kids now spend too much time with tech and aren’t developing the skills and muscles necessary for them to hold pencils.

The Guardian reported on warnings from “senior paediatric doctors”:

“Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust. “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills.

“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers,. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills.”


Payne blamed the fact that kids aren’t playing the ways they used to: “It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes,” she said, adding that, “Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”

Wonderful—a very concrete problem on which to focus all our immense anxieties about screen time. How long will it take you to have your first crayon-related freakout?

The piece, however, buries the lead. Take a look at the illustration of proper pencil holding posture in the Guardian article. I’m pretty sure that all these years I’ve actually been holding my pencils way to close to the point. Is this why I always get ink all over my fingers? Is everything a lie?

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