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I often receive questions from readers and a while back I received an email from a parent asking for tips for teaching her left handed son to write. This is a common question I receive from both parents and teachers, so today I'm sharing my tips for teaching lefties to write.
Tips for Teaching Lefties to Write:
- Be a good model. Even if you're right handed, try to use your left hand when modeling correct letter formation and pencil grasp for the left handed child.
- Teach left to right progression. While you want to encourage your leftie to use correct letter formation and to complete pre-writing tasks (like tracing and connecting dots) from left to right, it is ok for lefties to do things that seem 'backwards' to right handed writers, like crossing the letter t from right to left.
- Slant paper appropriately. Teach the child to appropriately slant the paper. A leftie should slant their paper with the top left corner higher than the right top corner.
- Discourage the use of a hooked grasp. Many lefties tend to hook their wrist when writing. Use of a slanted surface, such as a slant board, can help better position the wrist. Also, practice writing on a paper taped to a vertical surface, like the wall or refrigerator door, to help improve the position of the wrist.
- Encourage the use of a tripod grasp. Use a short crayon or pencil to encourage your leftie to use a tripod grasp (thumb and first two fingers).
- Be aware of placement of written material to by copied. Write the letter or word to be copied on the right side of the paper or on the top of the paper. A common problem that lefties encounter is that they can't see what they're supposed to be copying! Since we right from left to right, their hand covers up what is on the left side of the paper. By placing information to be copied on the right side or the top of the paper, the child can better see what needs to be copied. Handwriting Without Tears does a fantastic job of designing their workbooks so both lefties and righties can see what needs to be copied.
Also, make modifications as necessary.
- Modify worksheets. If you are making your own worksheets (e.g. a spelling word worksheet), place word columns on both the right and left side, so both righties and lefties can see the list of spelling words.
- Modify workbooks. If making your own workbooks, put the binding at the top, so the left handed writers don't have the bump the binding causes in their way.
- Modify notebooks. Allow lefties to use notebooks backwards so the binding doesn't get in their way.
- Modify seating. Have lefties sit on the left side so they don't bump elbows with other students when writing.
For more information on teaching lefties to write, please visit:Left Handers' Day and the teaching resources page of Anything Left Handed.
Do you have a question? If so, email me at AbbyPediatricOT@gmail.com and I'll do my best to get back to you with an answer!