A conversation recently came up over on my Facebook page about how to support a left-handed child – especially when that child might be the only one in the family who is a lefty.
I myself am right-handed. But Cody is a lefty, and so is Becca. Time will tell which hand Grayson will prefer. There’s a lot of research out there on the topic, and it seems from what I’ve read, that noone really agrees on when a child has actually made the final decision about which hand they will use. Some of those “experts” would say that you can’t possibly know until a child is 5, 6, or 7… while others say you usually know by 18 months, and others say even before that. But anyway, how do you help that left-handed child in a world made for right-handed folks? (All research agrees that only 10% of the population are left-handed.)
It can be a challenge. MOST “touchy-feely” books only have the feeling spots on the right side. Desks for school children are made to support a right arm. Most spiral notebooks are bound on the left side. Scissors are often hand specific.
But take heart!!! Mirrors are a fabulous thing. It’s also great to sit across from your child to model something for them – so they are looking at your mirror image. And, I have noticed that Becca tends to use her right hand for some things simply because that’s what she’s seen me do over and over, and it’s easier to mimic. Cody says that he uses his right hand a lot for things, too – including his computer mouse at work – simply because that’s the way the world works. I think left-handed folks end up having to be more ambidextrous than those of us who are right-hand reliant. I can do a lot with my left hand, but I don’t hardly ever lead anything with my left hand. Becca can use both hands fairly well.
When teaching her to eat with a spoon, and also to pour water, we talked about with hand is her strong hand, and which hand is her helper hand. Her strong hand holds the spoon or the pitcher handle, and her helper hand holds the bowl/pitcher to keep it steady. By using “strong hand” and “helper hand” I didn’t ever slip and say left and right and end up mixing them up. She has a very good grasp of left vs right, and has for a long time, so it’s been very important to me to explain to her that everyone has a “strong hand” and a “helper hand,” but for some people one is the left and the other the right, or visa versa. She has the example of Mommy and Daddy having different “strong hands” to look at. If you don’t have another lefty in the family, it’s a great way to talk about the concept of how everyone has strengths and weaknesses in their physical abilities, and that we use our bodies sometimes in different ways. (Also note – a left handed writer isn’t always a left-footed kicker! Becca is definitely right footed.)
So, that’s my two cents. The rest of this post is a compilation of websites that I’ve found that have information about having a left-handed child. Some of them are from researchers, some are just from ordinary folks like me and you. So, be sure to view the information at the top of the page when you visit the link so that you know how much stock you want to put in what that particular source is sharing. I am also listing at the bottom several helpful products from Amazon that you might want to purchase to help your left-handed child. Those products are all affiliate links, and I appreciate your purchases! 🙂
Not sure which side is dominate? Check out these simple tests from http://www.childcarequarterly.com/spring07_story3.html
“Eric Chudler, University of Washington, has a Web site called “Neuroscience for Kids.” It includes games, quizzes, and links to brain development and function. The following activities are adapted from his work. Each activity offers school-agers opportunities for charting and graphing, surveying, and evaluating evidence. Have plenty of chart paper and markers on hand. Encourage children to make notes of their observations. If your classroom has Internet access, children can upload their data and exploration results.
Left hand or right hand?
Rather than ask children which hand they use, set up observation experiments that rely on more than self-reporting. Prepare observation charts with three columns: Left Hand, Right Hand, Either Hand. Have observers chart peers in tasks such as using a fork, painting at an easel, turning a door knob, and throwing a ball.
Left foot or right foot?
Set up the same observation system as in the previous activity. Have observers chart their peers in tasks such as kicking a ball, walking up stairs (Which foot steps first?), time spent balanced on each foot, and stepping on a picture of a cockroach.
Left eye or right eye?
Check for eyedness. Chart these tasks: looking through a paper tube, looking through a magnifying glass, and winking (Which eye winks more easily?).
You can chart eye dominance too. Cut a coin-sized hole in a sheet of construction paper. Ask the subject to hold the paper and look through the hole at a distant object using both eyes. Ask the subject to bring the paper closer and closer to the face while still looking at the object. As the paper comes close to the face, only one eye will be looking through the hole. Which one?
Left eat or right ear?
Chart which ear is preferred in different tests. Which ear does the subject cup to help make a whisper louder? Which ear does the subject hold against a small box when trying to determine what’s inside? Which ear does the subject hold against a door to hear what’s going on outside?”
Lefty Products From Amazon:
Fiskars 5 Inch Left-handed Pointed-tip Kids Scissors, Color Received May Vary
Kona K2LTSB Left-Handed Acoustic Electric Dreadnought Cutaway Guitar in Tobacco Sunburst Finish
Razer Naga Left Handed MMO Gaming Mouse
Le Creuset Revolution Silicone Left Handed Saute Spoon, Marseille
Westcott School Kumfy Grip Left Handed Kids Scissors, 5-Inch, Blunt, Colors Vary (13594)
Roaring Spring “Lefty” Notebook, One Subject with 1 Double Pocket, 11 x 9 Inches, 100 sheets, College Ruled, Assorted Color Covers
EasieEaters Curved Utensils – Left-handed Utensils without Shield
I’m Left-Handed What is Your Super Power? Lightning Bolt Navy T-Shirt
TOPS Lefty Kraft Cover Notebook, 9 x 11 Inch, College Rule, 80 Sheets, Assorted Colors (65128)
Plus check out this book – I think I’m gonna have to get it!
Your Left-Handed Child: Making things easy for left-handers in a right-handed world
UPDATE 3-30-15 – CHECK OUT THIS FABULOUS SET OF TIPS!!! http://www.schoolsparks.com/blog/teaching-a-left-handed-child