Teacher training – comments on our article
– Teacher and parent experiences
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.
This is a selection of the comments we received regarding teacher training and the level of support teachers offer their left-handed students.
- We didn't receive any specific training on how to teach left-handed children. During my teacher training course they advised us to use very similar techniques to teach both left and right handed children. Pencil grip was the same for both, as was letter formation. We were told to encourage children to hold the pencil in the hand they felt more comfortable with (we would test this by asking children to pick up objects at random to see which hand they used). In the case of left-handed children, we will sometimes turn the page at more of an angle to allow them more freedom of movement but generally, we just observe to see what comes naturally to the child and go from there.
The children I teach are all in the very first stages of writing and so it's sometimes very difficult to determine when a child is struggling with pencil grip or when it's just a case of motor control and development! In my previous school, I had two left-handed children in my class. The boy struggled with holding a pencil but the girl had very good motor control. In this case, we just encouraged the boy to do some fine-motor activities – puzzles, modelling, sticking and cutting, to develop his control but we did not offer him any specific activities or techniques for left-handed children.
To my knowledge (and for that of the staff who I have worked with) we use very generic techniques to teach both left and right handed children. However, I did go through my teacher training six years ago and it may have changed since, although I have never been offered a training day in this area. I think any advice or training in this area would benefit teachers and help them to understand and develop the children. I know I would be interested to learn more about left-handed methods and techniques.
- As a teacher trained and working in Virginia in the U.S., I have never seen any special accommodations or considerations made for left-handed students. The idea that classroom tools, including scissors, are universalâ€ for use by all students is prevalent. I myself was completely unaware of the difference simple accommodations can make until my daughter, who has a very strong left-handed preference, was having trouble learning to form the alphabet and numbers in preparation for kindergarten this year. She quickly began to excel in these areas, however, when I did a bit of research to become a better teacher for her and bought her some left-handed scissors. I have helped make her teacher (a truly fantastic teacher with 30+ years experience!) aware of some strategies for helping left-handers be as successful as they can be!
- Teachers should be made aware that whatever the position of the writing book there is no rightâ€ way, only the comfortable way.
- Perhaps teachers especially EYFS should actually spend some time being left-handed to understand some of the problems these youngsters face.
- When my son whose now 10 years old started primary school 6 years ago, I had to purchase a left handed scissors for him to have in school as his teacher couldn’t answer me when I asked if they had left handed scissors available for him in class. His teacher who was newly qualified didn’t know that left handed children formed letters in a different direction to right handed pupils. I really felt she had no clue and was left feeling let down by her and the school.
- Teachers just need to be more aware- I don’t think they are prejudiced against left-handed children, I just think it’s ignorance of the issue that left handers face.
- I am a primary school teacher and my son is left handed. I did the PGCE 6 years ago and don’t recall being taught anything about teaching left-handed children. It would be very useful to have a national awareness day where schools could make a big effort to put some of the above advice into practice.
- Within the setting where I work we have six lefthanded children and after talking with other practitioners I realised NONE of them understood the need to provide resources that would aid left handers in their development e.g. scissors.
- I am currently studying towards a degree in Early Years and last year one module related to inclusion. As individuals, the class were asked to choose an area that they felt needed further investigation. I chose lefthandedness but could find very little information on it and no conflicting views so had to abandon it and choose another area. We really do need more information available in this area.
- I always use the term left-hand learnerâ€ when I train teachers. Teachers need to hear that it is not just a tendency to use a particular hand to write or cut. It truly is a brain process. Observing and adjusting the teaching style is needed. I cannot tell you the looks I get with teachers who feel that I am excusing my daughter’s learning needs. They are not excuses; they are legitimate brain based facts. Observe the natural tendencies and find a way to adapt your teaching style to suit.
- When I studied to teach back in the mid-1980s, the colleges and school districts were aware of the learning disabilities that develop in left-handed students due to them having to adjust to living in a right-handed world, rather than being accommodated. It’s a shame that there are any teachers out there at all who still believe that since all of the other kids can do something, a lefty should be able to do it, too.
- The only way to get a right hander to understand a lefty is to tie their right hand behind their back so they could experience being a left hander. I don’t think teachers, in all of their training, are taught how to deal with lefties
- The evolution of the No Child Left Behindâ€ the USA so loves still leaves out the left handed child who needs teachers to be aware of this issue who can either supply the support to help these children or find someone who can help them.
- The saddest thing I found at school, some time ago, was that although I was provided with a left handed fountain pen it was almost forty years later that I learnt how to use it properly from a calligraphy book. From reading everyone else’s comments it is sad to see that there has been little progress. Perhaps teachers would benefit from some better guide lines especially in the early years of schooling
- I am appalled that educators don’t know much more about left-handed people and their talents than they did 40 years ago. Frankly, I survived as a lefty, managed to become highly educated, helped many students who lived outside the box as I did, and still I have to read these sorry letters that don’t understand the world of the left hander. We are more than a left pair of scissors or sitting on the end of the table.
- It is shocking to hear that the discrimination continues to this day. I was floored when my son came to me during the 2003/2004 school year and told me that his 23 year old teacher was trying to force him to switch. I would have thought that a teacher that young would have known better.
- I am teaching in South Korea where it is still considered wrong to write with the left hand. It’s very frustrating to see some of my children who are clearly left-handed being forced to write with the wrong hand, and their handwriting is terrible too! I’m hoping Westernization will bring about a good change with respect to this soon.
- It is obvious Universities in Australia are doing nothing very much to educate our Teachers for the left-hander. I myself am a trained primary teacher and can scarcely recall any reference to the left-handed child when I trained in the late 70â€²s. My third son is just finishing his Primary Teaching Degree and nothing much has changed. A speed course lasting a lecture or two clustering left-handedness in with other exceptional influences on students can hardly nurture an understanding of the isolation being left-handed can cause to the shy child. It may be only 10% of people to us right-handers but to a left-hander it’s 100% of their life.
- The parents *have* to be the advocates. My father went to the school and talked to the principal as well as the parish head and told them, if they tried to switchâ€ me he would pull me from the school. Teachers didn’t help with things like scissors (still can’t use left-handed ones) but they did teach me to write without the overhand hook. The advocacy of my parents meant that I was able to adapt where needed and work with teachers where needed.
- I am a lefty School Psychologist in the United States with two lefty sons. I grew up in a time when very little attention was given to left handers in school, other than being identified as different and sometimes troublesome. I never had a pair of left-handed scissors and learned to cut right-handed. I work in a public school district, and I find that most teachers do not realize that scissors for lefties must be built differently, and that there is no such thing as scissors that interchangeable. I advocate for my sons and I am encouraged by any efforts made to recognize and accommodate lefties in a predominantly right-handed world.
- I am left-handed and my second grade teacher refused to help me learn cursive because I was left handed. I am now going into teaching early childhood (prek-4) and in the program I am in there is very little mention of how to help left handed children develop proper handwriting techniques. My father and younger sister are both left handed. My younger sister had the same second grade teacher as I did and she didn’t even bother asking for help. I agree there needs to be more attention paid to helping left-handed children because growing up there were no left-handed desks in classes and if there were the teachers were oblivious to it and gave them to right-handed students. There was no left-handed anything growing up.
- I am left handed, am a teaching assistant in a class of 30 with 7 left handers, tutored a left hander for a year and positively promote the use of left handed pencils, tilting the paper at the correct angle and sitting the children in such a way that they don’t bump their neighbour. We talk through the way to form letters and how to hold the pencil so as not to hook the hand. I feel I am on a one woman mission as although my colleagues pay lip service to the issue, only one (also a leftie) follow any of the advice given, even to the extent of denial that they have the left handed pencils I gave them! It is all like too much hard work in a busy classroom.
- My son had an incident at school with dress making shears only right handed pair available, so how did he cut his fabric when he's a lefty – answer with great difficulty. I have had to ask in every infant/junior class for my 2 sons to be moved as they have both been put on the wrong side of a right handed child. I really do think awareness is good, and all teachers should have reminders about how they can assist lefthanders.
- I am left handed and was a teacher, then a headteacher. I truly believe that right handed people do not understand the difficulties faced by left handers.In my experience it is inevitable that children who are left handed are treated more sensitively by a left handed teacher. These days for many teachers it is lack of understanding, rather than malice.
- I contacted the University of Alberta Education department regarding the question of teaching teachers how to best serve left handed children. They thought the question was interesting but had NO policy or proceedures for working with left handed kids. The U of A is in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
- Hello-my daughter is a lefty and at her school I do not believe there is one teacher who understands lefties. If there is they are too old because they were not given proper instruction in school in their time at lefties. So my child suffers. I wish there were a school for lefties only. But I have read research that indicates lefties are more adaptable than right handed people because they are more resourceful, and creative and great problem solvers. All the products I bought for her for school for lefties have been lost or stolen. I am fed up with the inexperience of these who claim to be educators.
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:
Detailed Comments on teacher training and left-handed children
Equipment problems (scissors, desks, computers, other items)