A classroom for left-handed children

Machines, hand tools and even doors are all designed for use by right-handed people. This continues to be the case, even though research has proved that the percentage of left-handed people is increasing. This could be due to the fact that children who show early signs of being left-handed are now encouraged to develop and not forced to change to being right-handed. Parents, teachers and medical professions all accept left-handedness more readily than in past years. Whatever the handedness of the child, they have the right to the same amount of effort and time spent on teaching them to write and perform functional school related tasks.

It is inevitable that teachers will come across a child who is left-handed. Often teachers (and parents) are unsure of exactly how to assist the child in developing good habits and be comfortable with writing with their left hand.

A few important tips are:

  • First of all: ‘Don’t force a round peg into a square hole’. If you suspect a child in your class is left handed, allow them to be left handed, rather than forcing them to write or perform other tasks with their right hand.
  • Paper position: Left-handers should position the paper to the left of the midline of the child, with the top right corner tilted slightly down. The paper is placed so that the child’s hand is to the left of the body and slightly away from the body. This is so that if the child starts to write there is enough space to move the arm and hand closer to the body. The wrist should not be bent and the hand should be below the line that the child is writing on. Shift the paper to the left as writing progress.
  • Pencil position: The pencil should be held between the thumb, index and middle fingers about 1.5-2.5cm from the tip of the pencil. The pencil should point toward the left elbow and not toward the shoulder as a pencil held in the right hand would normally be.
  • Rather use quick drying ink pens so that they don’t smear their work. 
  • Seating: Allow left-handed children to either sit alone at a desk or to sit to the left of a right handed child. By doing this they won’t continuously bump into each other’s arms while writing.
  • Let them use left-handed scissors. This greatly assists in staying on the line while cutting.
  • Allow them to use left-handed rulers – Yes; there is such a device… Basically the numbers are written from 30 – 1 instead of 1 – 30. This assists in measuring and drawing accurate lines. A left-handed child can then also pull the pencil or pen across the ruler instead of pushing it. Measurements will also be more accurate as it won’t be necessary to lift their hand to measure.
  • Many left handed children adopt the hooked wrist position while writing. This needs to be corrected as soon as possible as it can be detrimental to legibility as well as speed of writing. The wrist should be kept straight so that the hand is in line with the arm.
  • Reversals are a common problem that left-handers struggle with. To attempt to eliminate reversals enough attention should be paid to the correct formation of all letters.
  • Change the mouse settings on the computer that a left-handed child would use so that the buttons can be the other way around. The usual ‘left click’ button should now be on the right of the mouse. This allows the left-handed child to use the mouse with their left hand too.

  • A left-handed child will typically take longer to learn how to tie shoelaces. It is advised that the child watches you in a mirror when learning to tie their shoelaces or that they practice on a shoe in front of them, before trying to tie the laces while the shoe is on their foot.

Even though a left-handed child has some definite challenges to overcome, studies have shown that they often have higher IQ’s than their right-handed peers.

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