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May 12, 2020

Pincer Grip - Preparing for Language Work

I've gotten so many questions about how we are approaching language work with Gus now that he is three. And, I promise that I will outline that work more carefully in the coming weeks. But before I did that I wanted to talk about one of the most fundamental things that I am working with him at home to prepare for future language work - the pincer grasp. 

Now, this isn't something that he just started working on at 3 or even 2, this is something he has been slowly working on since he was a baby. From grabbing little pieces of food to using his pincer block, it's been on my mind to make sure that we are offering opportunities to develop the muscles in his hand. 

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This article on Montessori Daoshi does a really good job explaining. But, basically we don't want to just hand a child a pencil and expect them to write. We are offering opportunities to refine their grasp so that when that pencil is finally given to them, they don't have to work hard to hold it, but they can work hard on expressing themselves with it.

But, Maria Montessori herself was also very clear about the importance of the hand. This is reflected in the opportunities that the classroom provides, but also in her words. She said, "the first intelligent moving of these tiny hands, the first thrust of movement which represents the effort of the ego to penetrate the world should fill and adult's mind with admiration." (Secret of Childhood) Further (about 3 year olds) she says, "it is now the hand that becomes the direct organ of intellectual prehension, and the child develops by working with his hands instead of walking about. The child at this age is continuously at work; happy and light-hearted if always busy with his hands." (Education for a New World

With What...

Knowing that the pincer grip is important, adding some work to our shelves helps to refine this skill that they have been working at. Dr. Montessori said, "But the work of tiny hands which are the first stammerings of a man at work require "incentives to activity" in the form of objects which correspond to his desire to work." (Secret of Childhood)

There are so many things that help to work on pincer grip throughout early childhood. So many that if you want additional ideas, I can write another post with a list - let me know in the comments if that is helpful! But here I just wanted to share a few things that we've been using with Gus at this age.

I've made a couple of easy trays lately for Gus that encourage pincer grip. 
  • Small tongs: The first is just moving small baseball beads (similar) from one small bowl to another with a small tong that encourages a thumb and index finger to pinch. 
  • Threading: This is a simple threading material on his shelf with a blunt embroidery needle with some small butterfly beads {similar}  
  • Pinching: This is just for using a pinching motion to move the same baseball beads into a jar with a small opening. This encourages that pincer grip since other grips will make it difficult to get the beads into the hole. 

There are also some great more mainstream toys that can help to develop the pincer grip too. Gus has been enjoying a lot of coloring lately, pin punching, the lite-bright, and smaller knobbed puzzles - all of which encourage using a pincer grip. 

Again, there are so many things we can do to meet this need. I hope this serves as a reminder to keep it as an option when thinking about your child's language work. 

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Marii said…
I would definitely appreciate a list of activities to do to help develop the pincer grip!
Alissa said…
Thank you again Nicole for your wonderful insights. This is so timely for me and my 3-year-old right now, and I'd love to see a longer list for pincher grip activities!