5 Tips to Help Left-Handers with Writing

Last week, out of curiosity, I asked members in my Helping Kids Write FB group if their child is a rightie, leftie, or both-ie? 

Want to know the results? 

First to put things in perspective….. 
On average, 10% of people are lefties.

However, in my Helping Kids Write FB group for children who struggle with writing, the results out of 79 people were: 

42 / 79 – Rigthies – 53% 

25/ 79 – Lefties – 32% 

12 / 79 – Both-ies (I think I made this word up but it means they use either hand and don’t yet have a firm hand dominance) – 15% 

Isn’t that so interesting that much more than 32% in the poll are lefties when in the outside world, the norm is 10%? 

I’m a total brain geek! I just find this stuff so amazing.

I’d love to share some facts about hand dominance:

1) Did you know you can be left-handed to write but may use your right hand for other tasks such as cutting or playing sports.

2) We have other dominances.  We often think of being right or left handed, however, you can also have an ear, eye, or foot dominance.

So you could be left handed but right footed to kick a ball.

3) Usually, kids first develop a hand preference around 2-3 years old. Then they have a hand dominance around 4-5 years and a strong hand dominance by 5-7 years old.

Kids who are left-handed can sometimes take extra time to develop their hand dominance.

And oftentimes, if your child uses both hands, they’re most likely to be swapping hands due to tiredness or difficulty with midline crossing versus being ambidextrous. Being ambidextrous means you use both hands equally well which is very rare.

It’s important kids can use both hands together so that their dominant hand is for moving and controlling the pencil and their opposite or non-dominant helping hand is for holding the paper.

5 Tips for Lefties: 

It’s so tricky living in a world where everything is made for righties.  Even the most simplest of tasks such as shaking hands can feel awkward for a leftie.   Here are some tips to get going: 

1) Grasp and logistics –

Lefties are known for having a hooked wrist grasp because this helps them see what they are writing versus smudging their writing as their hand pushes along the paper.

Try the following:

-hold the pencil half an inch higher

-use a non-smudgy ink pen

-angle the paper to the right so that the top of the paper is going downhill

-try using an easel as this helps the wrist be in an extended (lifted) versus hooked position

2) Seating –

Make sure the teacher knows your child is a leftie.

Have your leftie sitting or positioned on the left edge of the room or table so that they can turn and look at you as turning into the writing hand is awkward.

If you are sitting beside or approaching them, do so on their right.

3) Cutting –

If they are left handed to cut, find left-handed scissors and other utensils.

There’s a left handed association here in the UK for easy access.

And remember when cutting out shapes, lefties go clockwise.

4) Writing –

When drawing horizontal lines, lefties usually go right to left.

So when crossing t, f, A, E, F, H, J, they’ll go from right to left.

When using workbooks or copying, make sure the letter image is on their right side so they can reference or copy it more easily.

5) Foundational Skills –

I’m a massive believer in working on foundational sensory and motor skills for writing so I can’t go without saying something about this.

If your child hasn’t developed a strong hand dominance or is swapping between hands, please make sure to first address the foundational skills of body and spatial awareness, core strength and endurance, balance and midline crossing, and then follow this up by building fine motor and two-handed skills. All of this will help develop a strong hand dominance.

If you want to learn more on the foundational skills, check out my Helping Kids Write mini-workshop.