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.
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.
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.
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
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!