Left-handed children

publication date: Apr 25, 2007

These days no child should be forced to change from left to right-handedness, but even so there may be pitfalls ahead as they may not be shown the best way to write. This means that they will either find their own way or try to imitate their right-handed friends, adopting a position known as “the hook” with the left arm curled round so that the hand is above the writing and the pencil tilted with the point towards the body. The arm is badly contorted and the shoulder muscles stretched leading to cramp when writing for long periods.

This means that left-handers are less likely to enjoy writing and will avoid it. In fact right-handed people are generally unaware of the problems faced by those who are left-handed. A simple experiment is to fan out a pack of playing cards to the left:  you see nothing as all the card markings are in the right-hand corner.

Using scissors and other implements designed for right-handers can make a left-hander look awkward and inept and even using a knife and fork can be a trial as they tend to hold the knife still and tear with the fork.

All this can be rectified with a little time and patience. The main problems are using scissors and writing. Many left-handers do mirror writing - but then so did Lewis Carroll and Leonardo da Vinci. However nowadays you can buy everything from left-handed boomerangs to clocks.

Making life easier for nature’s lefties
  • Get your child to relax when writing. Often children who have had problems with writing are tense and lack confidence.
  • Encourage pre-schoolers to stand at an easel and do big, sweeping movements and to hold the chalk lightly.
  • When using paper and pencil, make sure the paper or exercise book is to their left so there is more room for the arm to move inwards as the hand moves across the page.
  • Invest in a pair of scissors for left-handers along with finger grips for pens and crayons.
  • Allowances should be made for left-handed children in the handwriting SATs assessment but it’s just as well to make sure your child’s school is aware of this.