Anything Left-Handed > Being LH Home > Left handed children > Teacher Training > No Help

Teacher training – comments on our article
– Views that teachers should NOT help lefthanders

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

We did get some comments from people who thought this was all a lot of fuss about nothing and that teachers should NOT be encouraged to give an special help to left-handed children and they should be left alone to find their own ways to do things.

We find this view very unhelpful but I guess could be accused of bias so here are a couple of the comments taking a very different view to us.   We will be very interested to hear your views on this so please add comments below.

  1. I can’t see why there are all these problems being dreamed up about being left handed. Some of us managed okay. If you let a child write with which ever hand they choose and just help them to hold the pencil or pen properly, there’s no problem. Problems occur when made to use the ‘wrong’ hand. Learning to deal with right handed scissors, an iron, knives, cake forks, tin openers etc, only makes for an adaptable person. Yes, rulers were difficult and cheque books too, but one learns to cope.
    And being left handed is a real bonus when it comes to playing the piano or a sport like table tennis. Left handed kids will find coping strategies for themselves, making sure they sit on the left of a right handed person at meal times, mirroring movements etc.
    But please, don’t make these kids feel it’s a problem to be left handed; it isn’t. It’s perfectly normal….and fun.
  2. I am left-handed. I have never found it to be a problem but then my parents did not make a big thing of it and I had no problems in school at all.
    I am also a very experienced teacher and the thought of saying children who are left-handed make letters differently is rubbish. The important thing is good teaching for both left and right-handed children.
    Sitting correctly is also for both important- if a teacher is having a problem with a pencil grip for a left-handed pupil, then ask a left-handed colleague to help with this.
    The angle of the jotter- that is the child's choice.
    Left-handed scissors for those who want them – I can’t use them and use right-handed ones in my left hand with no problem- the same can be said of left-handed pens. Many left-handed children are beautiful writers and many are not but this can also be said about those who are right-handed.
    Let’s be sensible about this- making a big problem of it can also make children anxious- is this what we want – I think not- give help where it is necessary – as you would do with right-handed children.

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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53 comments on “No Help
  1. Chuck W. says:

    I am left handed and started school in early-mid 80’s & in 1st grade my teacher said I wrote with wrong hand sometimes she would grab pencil out of my hand and even made me write up to 100 sentences saying “I will not write left handed” I don’t think left handed kids should get any special help or extra help unless they ask for it I definitely think teachers should never try to stop or force a kid to switch hands. When I write I don’t do anything strange. In school I knew of 2 of kids who wrote left handed and I don’t know if it was from what teachers or parents did to them qlwhen they 1st started writing but they both would reach around paper and do a crazy twist with their hands and wrists when they wrote. It looked very awkward and uncomfortable. I think they even struggled with school work. Kids that write like that should at least be asked if they need any help with writing? I didn’t have classes with them until around 5th grade so I don’t know if the teachers in 1st few years tried to help them or not. The only bed thing about writing left handed in my case is if I’m not careful when writing especially with a pen I can have ink on the side of my hand and my paper can get smudged and hard to read cause hand slides through what you just wrote. I also wish the teacher would have let me at least write on the back side of notebook because the metal rings or bindings were always in the way but the teachers would not let us do it. It would be nice if they made left handed paper. They may now I just know they used to not make it. It wouldn’t be that hard cause even notebook papers back then some of them after you ripped paper out it still had perforations on the right side so you could turn in neat looking paper that doest have all the little peices of string like looking paper shreds hanging off the sides.

  2. Tracy says:

    I am a lefty and I have never had a problem with being one. My father is left-handed too and was forced to switch as a child. He has since switched himself back, but mainly uses both hands now for different tasks. I do everything left handed except scissors. I could never get those green handled left scissors to work when I was in kindergarten so I took it upon myself to learn how to use scissors with my right hand. It worked out just fine. One thing I always hated in school was notebooks or binders because the wire or binders were always in my way, but you learn to adapt. I actually had a teacher in 8th grade tell me I had wonderful writing and he found in amazing that I was left handed and wrote so well!

  3. emilie says:

    Other than writing, lefties don’t need extra help. I made it through school just fine being lefthanded. That being said, I never really understood cursive writing and how all the letters ran together.
    Cursive was designed for the righthanded and lefthanded students should be allowed to print if they want to.

  4. monkey girl says:

    i think that no help is not a good idea because something are not easy. eg when you used right handed scissors, you can’t see what you are cutting. if you used used them in your right hand it makes everything wonky. they should have their needs met just like everyone else. they should not be forced to change hands because some narrow mind people think it’s wrong to write with you left hand.

  5. Beryl says:

    I have been following your campaign to improve the knowledge of teachers concerning left handed children. My Granddaughter is in her third year of Primary Education and,so far has had little advice. Speaking as one who has been left handed for 75 years, I feel I am conversant with all aspects of left handed life.I feel that this survey to discover the importance of Handness, although worthy in itself,is in danger of making the left handed child feel they have some handicap in life.When a child enters the adult world of work, there will not be the opportunity to access left handed tools either in office or building site and sooner or later they will have to integrate with a right handed world and learn how to cope with everything from tools to exiting a railway station with a suitcase and finding the turnstyle requires you to enter your ticket on the right. One advantage of beirg left handed is you can write or type and use the mouse at the same time.
    So, let’s help the youngsters with pens, scissors etc. but please don’t let them think they are disadvantaged in some way. Some of the most famous people are or have been lefties.

  6. Heather says:

    I personally liked the approach where we weren’t given special attention over it, but left handed tools were made available to us. Let the kids figure out which tools work for them.

  7. roopa says:

    i am a student and i am studying inter first year.i am used up to eat with left hand while eating with spoon.but many of my sirs scold me to eat right but i cant.

  8. Su says:

    I am an occupational therapist working in the education sector with children age 5 − 18 who have a physical disability. I am also a parent of a left handed child who has Down syndrome. I have had teachers and children comment and/or display improved skills by setting them(left handed children) up correctly with correct equipment. I have had children who disliked cutting discovering increased success/accuracy and then enjoying it, after being provided with left handed scissors. We do learn to adapt if we need to, though for some children this is harder than others, and not all adaptations are supportive ones. I think it is imperative that we provide the right tools as this supports the child for success. In my role, I do not look how I can change the student to improve their abilities, so much as how I can adapt the environment and tasks to help create the right environment and give them the ‘just right challenge’ for success. My daughter is 18. Until recently she would occasionally peel potatoes with me but I only had a ‘general’ potato peeler. After buying her a left hand peeler, she is faster and her peeling skills improved immediately.

  9. Jenny says:

    Being left-handed isn’t a disability, but we should be able to get the correct tools for the job! I grew up using right handed scissors for dressmaking and the revelation that left handed scissors existed was a real hallelujah moment. For the first time I was able to cut out a dress pattern without blistering my hands. And there’s a safety issue here too – a left-hander using right-handed tools is at greater risk of injury because the adaptations they may need to make could negate the safety features.

    (As a by-the-way I once saw a so-called health and safety expert on television say that kitchen implements should be stored in kitchen drawers parallel to the front with the handles to the right. My blood ran cold – if my parents had done any such thing I’d have been grasping knife blades.)

    Yes we live in a right-handed world – but in an age when racism, sexism,ageism and other isms aren’t acceptable any longer why should sinistralism be any different?

    • gillian says:

      Jenny, I agree the Health and Safety person was nuts! It never occurred to me there was any other way to store kitchen implements in a drawer other than with the handles facing towards the front of the drawer.

  10. Dave Walker says:

    what i would like to know is why right handed is dominant, even amongst animals (maybe right pawness) and why left has always been “bad”” sinister is the heraldic left, i used to be called “kack handed” by my dad, and i know there are lots of other names for left handedness. why is right so widespread? Does anyone know?

    • Robyn says:

      I went to elementary school in the 60’s. My second grade teacher did everythng in her power to make me right handed. I was an emotional mess. Finally, my dear mother interrfered and told my teacher to stop and to allow me to write my way. Back then it was also thought that , since the heart is more on the left, that you would wear it out (heart) if you used your left hand too much. Also, (and I’m ashamed to admit this) I have a difficult time walking in a straight line. My husband is always telling me that when we take a walk, I tend to “sway” . Does anyone else seem to have that problem?

      • Ginger says:

        I often ‘wobble’ when I walk- especially when walking WITH someone who is right handed, or around others who are right handed…because…as a lefty I lead with my left foot! My hubby who is right handed leads with his right! When I consciously or subconsciously try to match his steps I really wobble all over the place! lol

      • monkey girl + susan says:

        we both found that we sway and sometime with out meaning to push others to the side when walking

  11. Marilyn says:

    Out of 4 children in my family, my brother (the oldest) is left-handed in sports only. He had a left-handed baseball glove and left-handed golf clubs. The baseball glove was great for me because I’m a total lefty. My younger sister writes left-handed, but does everything else right-handed. My older sister is totally right-handed.

    My mom taught me how to tie my shoes by facing me and putting my feet up on her legs. She could still tie my shoes right-handed while I was able to watch her do it left-handed. She bought me left-handed children’s scissors which I used both at home and at school. I started writing with a left hook, but in the 4th grade I got tired of having a dirty hand all the time and I decided myself that I could write like a “right-hander” by simply turning the paper and putting my wrist down. I never knew there was such a thing as a “left-handed” pencil. My mother and I quickly adapted to each other in the kitchen when she started to teach me to cook. We found out quickly that we couldn’t both be working at the stove together because of the position of the pothandles.

    I am still working full time as a secretary, but about 15 years ago in one office I was working in, the workstations were being remodelled. Most of the writing space was to the right of the computer keyboard, which was placed on top of the desk. I was asked by the remodelling company to write something while my supervisor stood by watching. Unknown to me, someone from the remodelling company noticed something about me when I was using the computer. Anyway, I pushed the keyboard further up on the desk so that I could write without having to totally move my body to the right side of the desk. When I did that, the remodeller told my supervisor that the desk had to be redone because I was “disabled”. Before that I had never considered myself “disabled”. Like every other lefty I knew, I “adapted” to the situation. It was during this time that the Americans with Disabilities laws came into effect, and the desk had to be redone because of me to accommodate my lefthandedness. Needless to say, my supervisor wasn’t very happy with that news.

    • Marilyn says:

      I wanted to add some more to my email reply. My husband was also left-handed (deceased) and we had a right-handed daughter. I taught her to tie her shoes the same way my mom taught me, standing up facing her I put her feet on my legs and tied her shoes left-handed while she was able to watch right-handed.

      I took a course in left-handed crochet over 30 years ago. I stopped crocheting while my daughter was growing up (wish I hadn’t stopped). After my husband passed away 4 years ago, I took a class in crochet again. Even though the teacher was right-handed, she took the time to show me left-handed and didn’t grumble. I am now expecting my first grandchild and I am making my first baby blanket. This is my first large item I crocheted in over 30 years. Up until now I was only making small things like dishcloths to get the “feel” of crocheting again. I have sold quite a few small items at craft fairs. There is also a lot of left-handed crochet instructions on line.

  12. Birgit says:

    I totally agree with the person who said that they felt clumsy in the kitchen. I definitely do when it comes to certain items…so I make do without them. Cheese slicer? No thanks! Just the other day, I had someone come to sharpen my knives. We have a specific brand of knives we use. I was looking at other things to purchase from the same company. I liked the sharpener the gentleman was using until I realized it was “right handed”. Guess I’ll skip that item!

    There is a family story that in kindergarten I came home to announce that there were left handed scissors at school. My parents immediately bought me some, they hadn’t know such things existed. I’ve had left-handed scissors ever since and have been educating my DD’s teachers as she goes through school. Most think that as long as the handle works for both hands, then it’s fine. Ugh!

    As far as writing, early in school I realized that the way they turned the paper wasn’t going to work for me. When I questioned the teacher, she said to turn my paper the other way. Simple, yet effective. No hooked hand for me. Luckily I didn’t have to learn with a fountain pen!

    DD is right handed, but she’s left footed and left-eyed….so the whole cross dominant thing produces it’s own issues. 🙂

    No one else in the family is left handed, so far I’m an anomaly! LOL My guess is that previous generations simply weren’t allowed to be left handed.

    Thanks for all you do for us lefties!!

  13. Mary says:

    I think teachers should be aware or the problems but not make issues about it as it could give the child a complex.

    I went to primary school in the ’50s and had few problems as a leftie.I don’t remember having problems with my writing as I automatically turned the paper to write, I even won prizes for my handwriting. I did, however have problems using a right handed fountain pen so was one of the few allowed to use a ball-point pen. Scissors and other right handed equipment were also a problem but I learned to adapt. The only time I remember that my being a leftie was a problem for my teacher was aged 9, I was taught to sew the teacher used to get cross with me for stitching in the ‘wrong’ direction. I still remember her words “I despair of you, Mary, I really do!” This upset me and I was lucky my aunt was left handed and taught me how to sew (I can now quite easliy use both hands for sewing) and I produced some very neat work.

    My point is that my left-handedness must have been a problem for only one teacher as I don’t remember the others making an issue out of it.

    • gillian says:

      At my Comprehensive school , there were 3 pairs of LH shears in the needlework class, but the ordinary scissors were right handed. I was glad of this, because while I could manage scissors where the blades were the same size, right-handed shears were another matter.

      When we did our CSE needlework exam, left-handers were asked to pin a note to our work saying LH, so we would not lose marks for hand stitching facing the wrong way. My brother [who is RH] said anyone with back-to-front stitches should get extra marks, as it would be more difficult stitching backwards.

  14. Edel says:

    I agree that lefties shouldn’t be made to feel different. I was never treated differently at home or in school because I’m lefthanded, and I had teachers who had the sense to teach me to turn the paper the correct way so I wouldn’t get cramps or smudge the paper by writing “upside down”. I actually had more trouble with right-handed adults who couldn’t adapt to my left-handedness, and couldn’t understand that I’d learned very young not to mirror what I was being demonstrated. My first grade teacher nearly had fits when she realized I was conscientiously relearning how to bless myself with a “satanic” (backwards) sign of the cross. She was using her left hand to teach all the righties how to properly bless themselves, but I’d long since learned I was supposed to do the opposite of what was being demonstrated! 😀

    I do think that left-handed aids should be made available where possible in schools and the children should be given the choice of using left- or right-handed implements. I never had much trouble adapting to most right-handed items, but a left-handed cartridge pen would have been a boon, as would a left-handed ruler. Interestingly, it took me a very long time to realize that I’m very ambidextrous, because the one thing I never realized as a kid was that, since all standard implements are geared towards right-handers, righties never explored their ambidextrousness, and did everything right handed. I assumed I should therefore do everything lefthanded.

    Personally, I think the kitchen is the biggest area where lefties need help. Spoons or juicers with lips go the wrong way for lefties, using preparation knives is way more difficult (although I must admit I didn’t realize this till I got some leftie knives), and measuring cups all have the markings on the wrong side. Even the layout of the standard kitchen is geared toward righties rather than lefties or being neutral. But what I’d really love – a left-handed food processor. Sigh….

    • gillian says:

      It made me chuckle to read about your teacher realising children would mirror her movements. I wonder if she thought she was making the Satanic sign of the cross. 🙂

      For those [including fellow lefthanders] who say LHs should just learn to adapt, and not have ‘special’ equipment – well all I have to say is the ordinary stuff is RH. Someone mentioned irons. I can remember struggling with one with the lead coming out of the right side. I have not seen one like this in a shop since at least the 1980s now. Modern irons are ambidextrous with the lead coming out of the centre. Other ambidextrous items that can be easily found are can openers and potato peelers.
      “I managed so others should learn how to,” is a stupid argument. My mother could have said this when I got married and wanted an auto-matic washing machine rather than a twin-tub, [which she had at the time.] Or for that matter, one could say why do we need pocket-size mobile phones? We ought to be able to manage with the original type which were the size of a house brick!

  15. Nicola says:

    I think it is most important to let the left-handed children know that the reason that some things are more difficult for them than for the right-handed children, is that the tools are not designed for lefties or that the teachers are not able to teach you to do something with the opposite hand. I was unable to do crochet properly when they tried to teach it to us in school at about 7 or 8 years. I had a very impatient and aggressive teacher who decided it must be because I wasn’t very bright and she despaired of me. I was the only one in the class that was made to knit a hat and scarf while all the other girls made nice crochet ones. I was humiliated by the experience.
    I thought myself to crochet left handed later in life and said once to my mother that I couldn’t understand why I didn’t pick it up in school as it was not that difficult. She said it was because the teacher was trying to make me do it with my right hand and I was not able to follow her instructions. I never realised this was the case, I assumed it was because I just wasn’t any good at it. The problem was an incompetent teacher.
    I know that there are other small incidents over the years would impact on my confidence. If teachers cannot make effort to help left handed children then they should at least explain the reason for the difficulty.

    • Edel says:

      Crochet! I love to crochet and it’s something I also had to teach myself. I also had to teach myself that the wrong side of the pattern is the right side for a leftie. It makes a HUGE difference! I can’t tell you how many times I’d been dissatisfied with the result of a pattern, before I realized that I was looking at it upside down or inside out. I have a beautiful sweater pattern I’m working on slowly but surely, but I am dreading getting to the collar. It is DEFINITELY a rightie collar, so I’m going to have to figure out how to tweak it for me. It’s all single crochet and that, especially, is very noticeable when the wong side of the stitch is on the right side of the garment.

  16. Lorraine Harrietha says:

    I grew up in the 50’s and I am proudly left handed. I don’t remember having anything negative directed at me when I was a child. I do everything that a right handed person can do, even better. I taught myself to crochet right handed because there were no teachers to show me left handed. I play sports left handed and right handed. I only use my left hand to eat and write.

  17. Ro says:

    I have never needed extra help. I used right handed scissors. I don’t see being left handed as a disability. I feel that it has made me become more adaptable. My only problem is the ball point pens that smudge. When I find a certain brand smudges, I never buy that brand again.

  18. Timothy says:

    I have spent the last 45 years of life best-handed. Until now, I just thought I was left-handed. I just accepted the fact that I used my left hand more than I used my right. I turned notebooks upside down and backwards to maximize the space between margains when writing so the spiral would not be the way of my “best” hand. If I would have had left handed scissors, rulers and notebooks, I could have improved on my 2.0 GPA! (C’s get degrees for lefties too!) Instead, I relished the opportunity to achieve the same ammount of success with and added twist of using “wrong” equipment to complete everyday tasks the “RIGHT” way.

    I don’t mind that I have to reach accross my body to open a restaurant door. I get more exercise that way, (In my right handed shoes, of course.)

  19. Doris says:



    • Pamela says:

      I have 5 children. All are left-handed. When our oldest son was in Kindergarten, the teacher called us in and told us our son had a disability that we should get him help for. She then showed us an exercise she had given the children in the class to do. It was clear that our son could not do it. He had tried several times and had drawn an X through each one, getting more and more frustrated each time. The exercise was to copy a snowman from one side of the page to the other, showing the ability to draw circles, squares and triangles. The snowman they were to copy was on the left-hand side of the page. When I went home and made a snowman on the right-hand side of the page and asked him to copy it, he did it flawlessly. I showed it to the teacher and suggested that she needed to make sure that the lefties in her class (there were three) did not have to cover up the object they were to copy, be it pictures, letters, numbers, etc. Six years later, there were 7 lefties in the same sized class (also K) and the teacher contacted me to find out where to purchase lefty scissors! Two pair provided by the school would no longer be enough!

  20. Marilyn N. Clark says:

    As a left-hander, I decided at the end of elementary school, I was not going to high school writing with my left-handed in a hooked position, so to speak, with the pencil pointed away from me. I observed the right-hander and realized that his arm was parallel with the paper. I then turned my paper to the left and placed my left arm parallel over it, put the pencil in my hand between my thumb and forefinger that way it should be, and started to write. The letters slanted backwards, but that was okay with me. I practiced the entire summer between elementary and high school writing this way. … I have taught many left-handers to do this. I cannot understand why the school teachers do not teach this to the left-hander. It solves the problem right away. As a twelve-year-old i have to figure it out myself.

    • Lorraine Harrietha says:

      I never hand a problem using a hooked method. I write forward like a right handed person using my left hand.

    • Dave Walker says:

      Marilyn, interesting that you turn the paper to the left, i do some calligraphy, using oblique nibs, but still have to turn the paper to the right, like you i am an “underneath” writer but find it easier to get the correct thick and thin strokes by turning to a 30 degtree angle.

    • gillian says:

      I have never hooked my hand around the pen or pencil, but I did not think of turning the paper [in my case so I was writing vertically] until I was 12. It was a time when a few of us [l and r handed] were experimenting. I found it made my writing neater so carried on.

      By the time I was married, I discovered Anything Left-handed. I made a point of buying right-handed scissors, so my husband could use them! My brother-in-law, who is a lefty, said he hoped his children would not take after him, as life would be easier otherwise. On the other hand, I felt any children I had would have an advantage – because whichever hand was dominant – the correct equipment would be available.

      The first time I gave my daughter a pen, she was 18 months old. [The health visitor told me she should be able to ‘make a mark on a paper’ ] I placed the paper and pen on a coffee table, and sat her in front of it. What surprised me, was that she held the pen with an adult grip. The next time I saw my mother, I was annoyed when she transferred my daughter’s crayon to her right hand.
      “You shouldn’t do that!” I said. Mum replied she just wanted to see what the baby would do. My daughter put the crayon in her left hand and carried on scribbling. Now, I wonder if the same had been tried with me. [I have no recollection of anyone trying to make me write with my right hand.]
      When my daughter started school, I told her teacher she was left-handed, and I supplied the correct scissors for her. At the first parents’ day I attended, her teacher told me she was more advanced than other children , when it came to using scissors. I could see this in some snow-flake patterns they made, by cutting and folding paper. One snow-flake stood out – looking like it had been made by a child who was about 2 years older than the others. It turned out to be the one my daughter had made.

  21. iris says:

    I am left-handed and I always had to adapt to right-handed everyday objects on my own, from scissors to learning to play the guitar the right-hand way. I isn’t always easy but I think it helped me become more adaptable and very possibly to develop more balance of use between the two brain hemispheres.
    And all things considered I actually feel privileged in a way, because right-handed people don’t feel a necessity to adapt therefore the opportunity for them to try to achieve this sort of balance never presents itself, so in my case I believe that having to adapt was, in the long run, very positive.

    I agree that teachers should never make a big deal of it that might lead a student to think of their left-handedness as some kind of deficiency or shortcoming – what they should do at most is observe intently a left-handed student to look for any signs of awkwardness when using right-handed tools, and then privately ask the student if they are having any handedness-related difficulties. Always being discreet and casual about it. Other than that, handedness should be treated by teachers as a non-issue.

  22. Andy says:

    Yes being left handed is not a problem… until you hit something like writing in a spiral note book or binder. I’m 44 yrs and I still have that problem, it’s very uncomfortable to do so. Also when I used scissors for the first time I tried to use them with my left hand and they would not cut, (I was told I had to use my right hand) and over time I had to adapt to other things right handed only. If kids can have access to left handed products, from school or their parents, then they won’t feel like something is wrong. (It feels weird to use a right handed object for the first time) this is not special help, just acknowledgement that everyone is different.

  23. Deb says:

    In kindergarten, my teacher though I was dyslexic because I made my letters backwards. No, I was just left-handed. I also thought I could never cut until I found REAL left-handed scissors. The green-handled ones were always crappy and never cut right. Most kid craft scissors these days have ambidextrous handles so they aren’t too bad. “Adult” scissors my times have contoured handles and if you use them in the wrong hand, they cut into your thumb. This starts to hurt very quickly. When I worked in the costume shop at university, I would secretly cheer on the inside whenever someone would snag my left-handed sewing scissors off the table, try to use them and then exclaim, “Hey, these don’t work!” Welcome to my childhood.

    While lefties are very adaptable, I think it’s because a lot of the time we aren’t shown that there is another way. Like with the scissors, there are good left-handed scissors out there. Why not make them available? Some right-handed kids might discover they cut better with their left hands as well. I was also never taught that lefties batted differently in baseball. Again, that’s not hard to teach. I have to play polo right-handed because it’s the rules but that’s because of safety issues. Even though I’ve been playing for a few years and am a good horseback rider, holding the mallet in my right-hand still feels unnatural. I can imagine children being taught “right-handed” and never given any other options also feel awkward and clumsy about ordinary tasks, which should feel natural.

    The added perks of at least recognizing that lefties will do some things different is, as I mentioned before, right-handed children might find that they do some things better with their left-hands. If one of the predominant themes in education now is giving children options and letting them do things “their way”, then not giving left-handed children options is restricting them. Likewise, we might be inadvertently restricting right-handed children as well. The worst side-effect I can see from having left-handed options when available is that children start to become strong at doing things with both hands.

    • Pamela says:

      You are right, Deb “ambidextrous” scissors are not! I have 5 left-handed children and I once contacted Crayola complaining that they did not make true left-handed scissors. They replied that there was no demand for them. I say we should start demanding! I was once doing a teacher training class for Sunday School teachers. I purchased enough left-handed scissors for each of them, gave them each a pair and without telling them they were left-handed scissors, asked them to cut out a shape I gave to them. Not one of them could do it. Then I revealed that the exercise I had just given them was meant to show them what a left-handed child experiences when we give them right-handed tools and expect them to do what the other kids are doing! Bingo!

  24. Katy says:

    I’m 44 & grew up as the only lefty in my family. I adapted through school w/out being taught. Today I am ambidextrous in all things but writing and knife skills. I found lefty items (scissors, knives, sewing equipment, and spiral notebooks) after I got to college. My gripes are with the small amount of items available to a lefty. I have a left handed niece (the only other family member now who is) and have tried to send her mom “lefty aids” since we found out she was a lefty. Recently, I showed her easy way to hold her pen and write left handed and the trick of using spirals from back to front to make writing easier. I told her to explain this to her teachers and there should be no problem. I am grateful for the items that are added to the lefty arsenal and just wish that there were more. Being lefty made me me a double handed tennis player who never has to play a backhand. That’s a benny for sure. The argument about ignoring or not helping students/children is a long term one that people may argue for years. If parents help children to see their difference as nothing bad and give them as many tools to help as possible, you come up with an adaptable child who learns to see outside the box and figure things out. Find a knife shop that has their own sharpener and they can put a lefty edge on a good knife fairly easily.

  25. Dave Walker says:

    I started grammar school in 1957 and never had any problems with being left handed, some things were awkward but you just got used to them, (we were obliged to use pen and ink for written work) and as i didn’t have a fountain pen at that time the inkwell in the desk was on the right, so to dip it in my sleeve would come across the writing. I’ve tried left handed scissors but have got so used to right handed ones that my eye is not used to them, the advantage is, that your fingers don’t get stuck in them. I think that if a child is happy being left handed, then teachers should just let them find their own way.

  26. Holly says:

    I partly agree with the comments, in the sense that of course being left-handed should not be seen as a problem/disorder and can indeed be a bonus for some sports and instruments. I also agree that if provided with the correct equipment, left-handed children are not likely (in general) to require more help than their right-handed peers. That said, from my experience of attending school in the last couple of decades, there is not usually an abundance of good quality left-handed equipment in classrooms (perhaps this has already improved?)! Furthermore, when learning to write, watching a right-handed teacher writing on the board can leave you a bit bemused about how to copy them left-handed. I also recall being told-off a couple of times when I was a bit older for the way I had angled my exercise book on the desk (the odd angle was vital at the time however as writing with a fountain-pen was mandatory!)

    I disagree with the commenter who wrote that “Learning to deal with right handed scissors, an iron, knives, cake forks, tin openers etc, only makes for an adaptable person” – to this day (now in my late twenties) I still feel clumsy and incapable (and sometimes unsafe) with right-handed kitchen knives and tin-openers. Scissors can be a problem too. I don’t see why I should struggle to use such tools when perfectly good left-handed options exist. I also vividly remember how much easier geometry lessons became after aquiring a left-handed ruler!

    Therefore, whilst I agree that left-handedness is not a problem, and that children are adaptable, I certainly don’t see how it can do any harm to raise awareness of simple things like ensuring that classrooms are equipped with appropriate equipment, and that there is a teacher or teaching assistant available in primary schools who has had training in helping left-handers to write comfortably and so on.

  27. Sandy says:

    I also think possibly too much emphasis is put on adapting or using alternatives for left handed. I don’t think I ever used a pair of left handed scissors in my life, although they were made available at school and I was told to use them, I was already used to right handed scissors (I would have been 5/6). I have always eaten right handed, although my sister, who is a righty, eats left-handed. The reality is however much you adapt your home, you will always encounter situations where you have to use with righthanded things. Just think of the london underground – the ticket barriers have the slots on the right (for righthanded people!).

    • Adam says:

      Eating is an odd one – I have never understood why right-handers choose to eat with the fork (requiring more fine control) in their off-hand. If you seriously need the added cutting strength of your strong hand, you’ve overcooked it! To make it even more confusing, when they just use a fork, they transfer it to their strong hand. I got some indication of the difficulty right-handed people inflict on themselves when I tried to overcome false consciousness and eat in the classic left-handed fashion (reversed), and kept dropping food everywhere and stabbing myself in the face with the fork.

  28. Steve S says:

    As a left hander, and a qualified teacher I think your comment about you finding the views of those who feel no special support should be given as “outrageous” is reactionary and divisive.
    Isnt the key “special” help? Neither of the main two comments above have advocated the withdrawal of all help. Why should a left hander need “special” support? A child may need advice and guidance about certain skills but this shouldnt constitute “special”, just support. They might be about different things to those that a right handed person may need support about, but so what?
    I find it difficult to comprehend that there are still teachers out there who force left handed children to write with their right hand, who would not otherwise choose to. Whilst it is not for me to debunk such accounts, I would be interested to hear of any recent incidents of this happening, rather than re-hashing stories from the 60s and 70s. If this is the case, then clearly it is the teachers who need the “special support” – not the children.
    Where greater resources might be committed in terms of support, is in the area of motor skills such as sports and musical instruments where the need to utilise left handed equipment can be important – but – it should be the choice of the child as to which particular handedness feels natural. I had a left handed friend at school who felt perfectly natural playing a guitar right handed – his choice.
    So, my view is that help to children should be given where necessary, but “special help” – no.

    • Keith says:

      Thanks for your views Steve and I agree in part, but do think left-handed children need to be shown how to do basic things like writing and cutting the left-handed way. It is not hard to show them and much better than just leaving them to try to work it out by themselves.

  29. Margaret Shorland says:

    I agree with all the above. My husband and I are both left handed, both our children are right handed. It has never caused any problems in our house with either hand. My husband and I never had any special treatment at school, we are both far too long in the tooth for that, we just got on with it and we are far more adaptable for that. He had ribbons tied on his hands when very young to tell him which hand to use but he has still grown up without any hidden traumas into a well rounded, adaptable adult. Just one thing that was slightly difficult was teaching the girls to tie their shoe laces. A friend and I swapped children, she taught my right handers and I taught her left handers. Lefthandedness is not a disease or a syndrome and should not be treated as such.
    In my opinion, as a left hander, we are much brighter and more adaptable than our other handed colleagues. Try them on any left handed tool. (Which I NEVER use)

    • Sandy says:

      I completely agree, being left-handed is not a disability!!

    • Florrie says:

      Margaret, how did two left-handers manage to have two right-handed children? I thought that was genetically impossible! Being a lefty myself, I vividly remember the lesson at school which taught us about recessive genes, i.e. left-handed is recessive, therefore you need 2 left-handed genes (one from each parent) to be left-handed, therefore a couple who are both left-handed don’t have any right-handed genes to pass on to their children.

      • Burgess says:

        Florrie, was that a single or double lesson on genetics?

        I’m left-handed, my mother was left-handed and my father was right-handed. Problem solving it’s a way of life for left-handers, adapt assimilate and overcome, problem solving is in the mind not the hand. Got a problem that needs sorting than get a left-hander to put it right.
        There is more t the human condition than genetics. Historically speaking right-handers are the new kids on the block.

      • Kren says:

        I am a fourth generation lefty (as farback as I can research), through my great grandfather, grandmother, and father. My children did not inherit, though one was debatable as a baby. I do not know of ANY left-handers on my mother’s side. Where do the recessive genes come into play here? Any geneticists on board?

        I have been totally happy being a lefty, and am ambidexterous because of this trait.


      • Izzy says:

        Does that mean theoretically that two right- handed people can’t have a left handed child? I’m left handed but neither of my parents are, although there are various left handed people in my extended family. I’m curious about the genetic side of it- I thought it wasn’t really fully understood yet?

        • Keith says:

          Hi Izzy
          Whatever the genetics, two right handed parents DO have a lot of left-handed children. In fact, more than 75% of all left-handed children have two right-handed parents. You may find this analysis I did interesting:

        • gillian says:

          My parents are both right-handed, as were their parents. However, my mother said it never occurred to her to check any of our id bracelet when we were born. [I was born in a hospital where babies were only brought to their mothers at set feeding times, and otherwise kept in a nursery.]
          I was separated from my daughter, because she was in the SCBU. When I went to her, I always checked her bracelet first.
          However, as I can see characteristics from my parents in me, I am satisfied that my mother did not take the wrong child home with her.

  30. hope says:

    I kind of agree. I think all students should get the same amount of support when they need it. Yes, left handers might need advice such as being reminded which side of the page to start etc, and it’s helpful if a teacher knows to hand out left handed scissors and make sure kids don’t bump elbows on a desk, but thats only very basic stuff and children work it out themselves after a while. It isn’t only lefty children that get confused about which way round letters etc go, my brother always got 3s and 5s the wrong way, and he was right handed. When i was very little my mum said i used to start writing on the wrond side of the page, but lefties are adaptable people in my experience, and other than that i got used to doing the sensible thing, such as swapping seats with someone or cutting right handed. All my teachers were very helpful, but i wasn’t given special treatment or anything. If a teacher is a normal person, they would have grown up with left handers, so they would know that they need left handed scissors etc. And I agree that it IS an advantage to be a left handed tennis player!

    • Cindy says:

      As a teacher, I can tell you that most children will write on the wrong side of the paper. I am a lefty. Left-handed children don’t need ‘special help’. They just need help like ALL children. Left-handedness isn’t a disease. It is a gift given to a few adaptable people.

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