8 best ways to teach your left-handed child to write

8 best ways to teach  your left handed child to write. How do I ?

I first came across this question while volunteering for a summer camp a few years ago.

Five-year-old Fiona had taken to scrawling on the chalk board in loopy, largely indistinguishable letters; to her mother’s surprise, with her left hand. Little southpaw Fiona was just one of the handful of left-handed students we had at the camp that summer, dropped off by anxious mothers with a flurry of questions

“Can we train her to write with her right hand?”

“Will this affect the speed at which she learns to write?”

“How do I teach her to write, anyway?”

Left-handed people constitute 10-25% of the world’s overall population and teaching a child how to write with a commonly non-dominant hand can be a daunting task- one that requires a lot of support and insurmountable patience. The teachers at the camp had the volunteers teach the preschoolers how to properly position a pencil in the hand, how to form complicated letters and how not to leave the book looking like a war zone while the kids were at it.

This list consists of a few tips I’ve picked up from my summers volunteering and watching children learn to write for the first time. Before you go on further, it’s great to keep in mind that every child is different and what works with one may not work with the other; all you need is time and a whole barrel of encouragement.


Hand dominance develops at the age of 5-6

This is an important tip worth remembering. Hand dominance is a slow developing trait and can change continuously during that time. If your preschooler starts the prerequisite incorrigible scribbling with their left hand, here’s what you can do.

  • Try suggesting your child to switch hands while writing. Let them get a feel of writing with their right hand as well; if they aren’t quite as comfortable, the switch back to the left hand will happen quite unprompted and naturally.
  • Do not force you child to write with their right hands. Treat the teaching process like a game by gently encouraging and challenging them to use their right hand while doing simple tasks, just so that they can get comfortable with it. However, reprimanding them has little to no positive effect.

How to grasp a pencil properly

If your child is left-handed, the best way for them to hold a pencil will be by practicing the ‘tripod’ grasp. Show children how she they write best using the tripod grasp, by demonstrating it yourself.

  • In this technique, you need to pinch the pencil using the thumb and the index finger.
  • This technique will help develop dynamic finger movements and a proper wrist position.
  • The tripod grasp shows the most result because it gives the child the best control over the pencil and smoother movement of the hand over the writing surface.
  • The tripod also helps in faster, more efficient writing as the child grows older.
  • Help the child pinch the shaft of the pencil about 1.5 cm from the tip, this helps to prevent the hand from obscuring what your child is writing.

Pencils over pens

This is something most preschool teachers stress on. Pencils allow children to quickly erase something that they find unsatisfactory and can try again. Ink pens give little room for error and can turn the entire page into a splotchy mess if southpaws are involved.

Another tip is pick out a triangular/hexagon shaped pencil while stationary shopping. These shapes give a better grip than the rounded, smoother ones and can help with keeping a better grasp on the pencil.


Angling the paper

As children grow older, they will have to write more and write faster than they do when they are 5. At this time, it is important for them to learn how to angle their writing sheets, for speed and precision.

  • Angle the paper on a flat surface with the left corner of the paper, pointed in an upward direction.
  • Doing so helps left handed child to place their arm on the paper at a natural angle, helping them to write clearer and faster while not hurting the wrist.
  • When children learn to practice the specific angle, they will be able to move their hand from the left to right direction without having to hook the wrist.
  • Another important thing to note, is to always lay the paper on a smooth, flat surface while teaching a child how to write, irrespective of what their dominant hand may be.

Forming the letters

From my observations with both left and right-handed children, forming the letters can be an equally challenging task. Helping children to turn their scribbles into something legible requires first and foremost, time. In most cases, writing the letters and forming them is almost similar between left-handed as well as right-handed children. Here are a few tips to remember

  • Teach left handed children to write the letter ‘o’ in the same way that right-handed children do, in an anti-clockwise style. This will help them write quickly and more fluently.
  • By writing using the left hand, they can pull the lines on letters a little backwards and will be able to cross them better, as in the case of ‘t’ ‘f’ and others. Most left-handed children will be able to do so from the right direction to the left, instead of pushing the lines from left towards right.

Hand positioning

  • The left hand: Keep the wrist below the line. Left handers often develop a hooked wrist position, where the wrist curls over the top of the pencil, so that they can see what they're writing - but this can make writing uncomfortable. Encourage your child to keep the pencil on the line, with the wrist below, to improve their vision, reduce arm strain and prevent smudging.
  • The right hand as the ‘helper hand’: Use the right hand for stability. By placing their right hand flat on the right-hand side of the paper, the child can prevent the page from shifting about as they write.


This one is common knowledge; seat lefties on the left. If a left handed child sits to the right of a right-handed child, their elbows will clash as they write, affecting the progress of both parties.


Teach them to vocalize

Sometimes teachers at school will switch the kids’ pencil to their right hand because they may just assume the child is right-handed. This can impact kids negatively and confuse them, so teach them to be able to communicate the fact that they are left-handed, when they attend school or camps. This helps a teacher look out for a child better.


In conclusion, all that teaching a left handed child how to write needs is a lot of time and patience. Your preschooler can find it confusing in the beginning to see a majority of people write with their dominant right hand. Coax them gently into using their left hand for everyday activities like brushing and combing their hair, so that they adjust better when starting to write.

Every child reacts differently to the process, so try different things until they stick. Share your stories on how you taught your child to write, what are the struggles you had to overcome to get to the finish line- your experiences could resonate with the next person too!

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