Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teaching Young Left-Hand Writers

As the mother of a left-hand writer, I am aware of the difficulty faced when teaching a left-hand child to write, so I wanted to again address these difficulties and offer solutions.  First, lets compare the writing of left-handers and right-handers. Right-hand writers use their elbows as a pivot point to allow for smooth movement across the paper.  The fingers control the pencil while the forearm moves in an arc away from the center of the body.  As letters are written, they are visible to a right-hand writer since the hand moves away from the letters while moving across the paper.    Not so for the left-hand writer if the paper is positioned as a right-hand writer positions his/her paper.  The left-hand writer is not able to use the elbow as a pivot because the paper is slanted the wrong direction.  The entire forearm moves the pencil.  This makes finger coordination difficult if the paper is positioned as a right-hand writer.  The left-hand writer is unable to see the letters since the hand moves on top of them. 
This is especially difficult for the young learner who needs visual prompts to remember what he/she has already written.  Left-hand children who try to write like right-hand children tend to develop awkward grasps on their pencils to allow them to see the writing.  These grasps make smooth writing difficult.
It is very important to teach paper positioning and good grasps to children from the start.  Perhaps group left-hand children together to allow them to see other children position their paper and to allow them to imitate similar peers.  Teach the children to position the paper, pencil and hand to allow them to see the words.  Allow the child to be a part of finding the best position for him/her.  Then, ensure that the child uses a good grasp on his writing tools to prevent awkward grasps that may impact his/her writing as he/she ages.  It is important to teach good writing habits from the beginning, as it can be nearly impossible to change these habits down the road.

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