Tips for left handed children beginning to write
Practical solutions to potential problems

photo of a child at a desk writing with left hand

Roughly one in ten people are naturally left handed. Being left handed can provide many advantages; for example standing out from the crowd in sport and music. There may be some things, however, that left handers may need to use their enhanced natural creativity and ingenuity to help overcome.

Early writing can sometimes be challenging for left handed chidren but here are some tips to help to smooth over those minor bumps.

  • Use a pencil.
  • When starting out writing, left handed children can sometimes smudge an ink pen or fast flowing ball point pen. A pencil will tend to be smear free. Anything softer than a 2B may leave a slight smudging.

  • Sit on the left.
  • If a child is sat next to you or if you are pairing children in a class, try to let the left handed person sit on the left. This makes room for good elbow space. Think about where desks are in relation to walls and where lamps are are situated to prevent shadows.

  • Left to right.
  • You may find a left handed beginner naturally wants to write words from right to left. If the word is correctly formed at the finish, this is perfectly fine at the early stages of beginning writing. It could just take a bit of practice gauging the starting point of a word. If the word is written backwards e.g. stac instead of cats then it is ok to correct them.

  • Backwards letters.
  • Sometimes letters may be written backwards, y's, t's and j's. It is perfectly fine to correct them. This will help further along the line with reading too.

  • Starting and end points.
  • A left handed early writer might start with the dot of an i or the cross of a t. This a natural thing for a left hander to do. In early writing this won't matter too much but when beginning cursive writing, where you start and where you end up for the next letter is important. Practicing with letters will help.

  • Finger spacing.
  • Some children are encouraged to leave a finger space between each word. If you are right handed you wont realise how tricky this is for a left hander unless you try it. Using a finger or pencil from above could help. Making a dot where the next word starts may too.

  • Spiral notebooks.
  • Some spiral bound notebooks have quite a chunky binding and get in the way. If its an art pad for drawing why not try it with the spiral at the top. Your page then being in a landscape format. Writing on lined paper? A notepad with a bigger margin may help.

    child writing on a letter worksheet on a wooden table
  • Angle the paper.
  • Writing with ink or pen can smudge with the palm of a left handed writer. Angling the paper by 45 degrees up or down - whichever is more comfortable may help.

  • A little more patience.
  • When completing early writing exercises or filling in letters on worksheets, the questions or preceding letters may be obscured by the writing hand. So a little more patience may be needed when completing tasks. Patience by the writer and tutor!

  • Scissors and mice.
  • There is some debate in schools about using left handed scissors and moving a mouse (with switched buttons) to the left of the keyboard. In a world where most of the computers you come across have mice or laptop track pads positioned for right handers, is it worth left handers using their enhanced ingenuity to compensate for this set up and go at it with the right hand? Should left handed children learn to use right handed scissors knowing that wherever they may do crafts, gardening or fun in the kitchen, then they will always be able to use whatever is likely to be lying around? The jury is still out on this one and it may come down to each person's preference.

  • Left Handers Day
  • International left handers day is August the 13th. This day way was created to raise awareness and elevate some of our left handers daily issues into mainstream thought. Our world is inhabited by mostly right handers and they are sometimes blissfully unaware of how they can help, or hinder.

Left handedness can be an advantage in sport and a sign of a naturally creative mind. There is no reason to worry about a child preferring to use their left handed when it comes to writing. Armed with the points and the information in this article your childs left handed early writing can be pain and smudge free!


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