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Teacher training – comments on our article
– Guidance for teaching left-handed children

We posted an article about Teacher Training and Left handed Children in March 2012 and received a huge response, with over 200 comments totalling some 30,000 words and hundreds of emails – this is certainly the biggest response to anything we have ever posted.

You can see the original article “Teacher Training and Left handed Children” here

and the follow up article with conclusions from the initial feedback here

Based on our own books and guides plus the feedback we have received from members, here are the top things teachers can do to make like a little easier for left-handed children.

We are going to produce this list with more detail and better formatted for downloading so you can use it to pass on to the teachers at your school.   We are also aiming to produce a short video to explain these points.

General

  • Be aware that left-handers do some things differently and you should NOT try to change them to do it the right-handed way for your own convenience but assist them in doing it the left-handed way.
  • Make sure you know which children in your class are left-handed.
  • Get hold of Lauren's book Your Left-Handed Child for a full understanding of the background and issues.

Seating arrangements

  • Sit left-handers on the left side of double desks or the left end of any block of desks so they are not clashing elbows with their right-handed neighbour.   If they can sit on the left side of the class as they face the front that will be   a bonus.
  • If you have desks with writing tables attached on one side, make sure you have some left-handed ones and they are allocated to the left-handed children (and if there really aren't any, help them improvise a viable writing surface)

Writing

  • Be aware that it is difficult to   push a pen in your left hand across the page from left to right and that left-handers need to do things differently to right-handers.
  • It is important that left-handers make a correct “3 point” grip with their thumb, index and middle fingers on the pen – a mirror image of the right-hander's grip – and keep their hand below the writing line (it is more comfortable and avoids smudging). Also watch out for an over-tight grip.
  • Left handers should rotate their paper clockwise and moved it to the left   so that they can write comfortably with their left hand moving towards their body. (see our writing guide mat for positions)
  • Left-handed nibs are a big help if using a fountain pen and pens and pencils with moulded left-handed finger positions or using moulded pencil grips help to reinforce good grip.
  • Left-handers form some letters in the reverse direction to right-handers, e.g. crossing a “T” from right to left.   Let them do what is natural or teach them these differences if they are struggling with letter formation
    (see our left-handed letter formation guide)

Scissors

  • Left-handed scissors are designed completely in reverse and the left blade is always on top.   There is no such thing as an ambidextrous scissor and just turning them over makes no difference!
    (see some examples of left-handed children's scissors)
  • When using left-handed scissors, hold them vertical and squeeze naturally and look for the cutting line on the right of the blades (don't twist them like a right-handed scissor and look over the top)
  • When cutting out circles or curved shapes, left-handers need to go clockwise.
    (see our left-handed scissors and cutting guide)

Other things to think about

  • Left-handers do a lot of things in different directions to right-handers and if they are struggling to learn something that is probably the reason, for example learning to tie shoelaces, some tools and sports equipment, knitting or crochet, using zips and buttons.   Be aware of these differences and help the child to learn the left-handed way – teaching by sitting opposite them and letting them mirror you can be very helpful.
  • Most left-handers will feed themselves with a spoon in their left handed.   There is nothing wrong with that – let them!
  • Kitchen equipment can cause problems for left-handers with things like right-handed peelers, tin openers and knives being difficult to use.   Lefthanders will stir and mix things anti-clockwise.

If you have anything to add, please leave a comment using the box below.

Links to the other pages of results from this project so far:

The original article “Teacher Training and Left handed Children”

Follow up article on initial feedback and comments

Detailed Comments on teacher training and left-handed children

Teacher experiences and lack of guidance
Positive comments on teachers and lefthandedness
Views that teachers should NOT provide special guidance for left-handers

Writing left-handed

Equipment problems (scissors, desks, computers, other items)

Forced change of hand

Advice and guidance to help lefthanders

 

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3 comments on “Guidance for teachers
  1. Mary says:

    When I started school 58 years ago, my mother battled with the school every year to leave me alone and let me do it my way–left handed. My father had been left handed and changed and could never really write, he always printed in caps. I turned my paper with top all the way to the left and used a sheet of paper under my hand if I didn’t want smudges, which was more useful in high school. I learned to knit and crochet from my right handed mother by sitting across from her and watching….worked great. Later I got interested in calligraphy and learned to turn the paper to the right. Maybe having left handed kids exposed to that writing style early would alleviate some issues.

  2. Nicole says:

    I have been using handwriting without tears curriculum which has been wonderful for my lefty!!!!

  3. Laura says:

    I would add a note about writing and letter formation: Realize that lefties might (though not always) have a different letter slant from righties. My elementary school actually had a pretty good curriculum for lefties — we had pencil grips, books that told us to position our paper and cross our letters in a left-handed fashion, but because my letters never slanted exactly as the teacher’s right-handed example did using this method, I got poor marks in penmanship, so I ended up writing hook-handed.

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