As a pediatric occupational therapist, I work with kids on handwriting all the time. I have found that people are often intimidated or confused about how to train left transferred children to write. To be fair, there indeed isn’t that much difference inbetween training right-handed and left-handed children to write, however there are a few significant things to keep in mind. If you are training a left-handed child to write, don’t be panicked!
Here are a few tips for training left transferred children to write:
1) Reminisce that palm dominance is not expected to fully develop until the Kindergarten years, inbetween ages five and six. If you have a toddler or preschooler who is exhibiting a left-handed preference, it’s possible he could still switch over to become a fully right-handed writer by the time he reaches Kindergarten and starts formal writing instruction. Don’t «force» your kiddo to be left passed because you’re afraid of what might happen if he completes up switching to the other mitt. If you permit him opportunities to explore using both mitts, he will most likely develop a preference and eventually dominance that utilizes whichever arm demonstrates the greatest skill, strength, and dexterity.
Two) If your child truly has established a left-handed dominance, make sure he knows and can verbalize the fact that he is left passed. Sometimes well meaning classroom volunteers and even teachers will switch kids’ pencil to their right palm because they may just assume the child is right transferred. This can obviously influence kids negatively and confuse them, so train them to be able to communicate the fact that they are left passed.
Trio) Encourage use of the «tripod» capture (pinch pencil with index finger and thumb, rest it on the middle finger) just like righties do. This will help with developing dynamic finger movements and decent wrist position later down the road so your child is less likely to «hook» his wrist like lefties are known to do. Children in our current educational system often are not trained how to correctly hold their pencil. Many right passed kids can figure it out just fine but because positioning is a bit trickier for lefties, they may be more likely to develop bad habits that will make it stiffer for them to take hold of and control the pencil as they get older and the writing requests increase.
Four) Train your lefty to hold the pencil in that tripod seize about 1 to 1.Five inches above the peak of the pencil. When lefties budge their fingers up the pencil a little higher, it permits them to see what they’re writing so they are less likely to have to hook their wrist in order to have a good view. This should also help them smudge their writing less. If your child keeps leaving behind or doesn’t know where to place his fingers, put a sticker at the height he should pinch the pencil in order to provide an effortless visual cue.
Five) There is no need to purchase any sort of «special» pencils or grippers for your lefty unless it has been specifically recommended by an occupational therapist. Lefties are fully capable of seizing the pencil as maturely and efficiently as righties. However, it’s significant for lefty kiddos to use left-handed scissors because of the way the blade is oriented; it permits kids to see where they are cutting and lefty scissors cut cleanly rather than folding or arching the paper. Don’t have access to lefty scissors? Just spin your right-handed scissors upside down in order to switch the blade orientation. This isn’t ideal as far as finger placement goes (thumb will then go in the large fuckhole and the fingers will cram in the little fuckhole), but it’s a quick fix if your lefty needs it.
ARM AND PAPER POSITION
6) As your lefty kiddo gets older and starts to write more (such as at the end of Kindergarten and moving into very first grade and beyond), encourage him to angle his paper with the left corner pointed up. Righties tend to angle the right corner of their paper up, and lefties should do the same with the left side. It places their writing arm in a natural position to be able to write on the lines as they budge from left to right without having to excessively hook their wrist.
7) Train left passed writers to place their paper to the left of their assets so they can see what they’re writing. When they finish writing across an entire line, their mitt should either be slightly to the left of their midline or just in front of it. This permits them to stir more naturally as they keep their wrist straight (rather than hooked), minimize smudging while writing, and see what they are writing.
8) Encourage your child to utilize the right palm as the «helper hand». Teachers do not always explicitly instruct children to stabilize their paper with their non-dominant forearm and, for some reason, this is especially true for lefties. The more consistently they stabilize their paper, the less likely it is to slide around and cause frustration while writing.
9) When training lefties to copy letters and words, make sure their model is either above where they are writing or directly to the right side of where they are writing so they can actually see it. Most worksheets place the model letter or word on the left side and then leave a blank space on the right for the student to write the letter or word. This is difficult for lefties because their left arm automatically covers up the model, so it may take them longer to finish or may lead to more mistakes because the model is covered up the majority of the time. Not fair to them! The popular handwriting program «Handwriting Without Tears » recognizes this unique need when it comes to the positioning of models and they have customized all of their worksheets so that they are accessible for both righties and lefties. Thank you, HWT!
Ten) Letter formation is generally the same for lefties as it is for righties. Be sure to train your child to write the letter «o» in the same direction as righties, which is in the counter-clockwise direction. This will help him with his overall speed and fluency of writing later on down the road. The only real difference in formation is that lefties can «pull» their little lines backward to cross their letters (like for lowercase «f» and «t» and for capital «A» «E» «F» «H» «J» «T») by going from right to left rather than «pushing» from left to right. This is indeed just to make it less likely that they will rip the paper but if they are able to draw those little lines from left to right like righties, it will also help their writing speed and fluency in the long run.
Regardless of whether your child is left passed or right transferred, kids in the preschool years should be focusing mostly on fine motor play as opposed to actually using a pencil and writing letters. Be sure to concentrate on activities that encourage him to pinch with his thumb and index finger (strengthening those tripod muscles), coordinate the use of his right and left palms together (cutting goes in this category), and generally develop the foundational fine motor strength and skill needed for later writing. Crayons, markers, chalk, paintbrushes, sponges, and other non-pencil writing utensils should be preschoolers’ main contraptions for coloring and drawing. Additionally, brief non-pencil contraptions are preferred because they help develop that good tripod grab by naturally encouraging children to pinch with those tripod fingers rather than using extra fingers or a fisted take hold of.
I hope these tips are helpful for you and your child as you dive into the world of left passed writing. Please share any extra tips in the comments below!
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Sarah Dizney says
These are superb tips. My Four year old becomes lightly frustrated and discouraged because she writes (and is corrected) differently than right transferred kids. As foolish as it sounds as a right passed person I never uderstood about the pushing and pulling of puny letter lines. My hubby (left transferred) still hooks his arm.Thank you
Hi, excellent article, but I feel you let it and yourself down by suggesting that right transferred scissors can be converted to left passed by simply turning them upside down.
That is not the case. They are still right transferred scissors, with the top blade to the right of the mid-line, permitting the user to see the cutting edge. Also, the pressure exerted by the arm during normal grip shoves the cutting edges together.
Using inverted right passed scissors in the left arm still has these problems.
When used in the left palm, right transferred scissors obscure the view of the cutting edge, and the blades are shoved apart so that they don’t cut well.
Everyone should get their left-handed child left passed scissors, and should kick up a fuss if the school does not have them available.
Yes, it’s undoubtedly not ideal!
I am so glad to see this! My almost Four year old has been primarily using her left mitt since she was Two so I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to switch. She is indeed displaying interest in drawing and writing lately so these ideas will be superb to help her development. Thank you!
These are good. I am a lefty, and in 3rd grade I was hooking becauseit felt better when learning cursive. They required us to use the triangle grippers and I hated them I couldn’t get my forearm to feel right. Eventually after never truly having to use cursive again when I got a bit older I just figured out how to hold my pencil without the hooking. Very interesting, however I’m not a utter lefty I cut with scissors with my right forearm. I no longer hook, but I still smudge all the time. Even as an adult people automatically mitt the pen or pencil to sign things to my right. I also find that some of the machines that you sign digitally for your purchase when using your credit card difficult to use especially when the manufacturer put the pencil with the string on the right and it can’t fully extend for a lefty. Tou life for us lol. Also for lefties there is a store in San Fransisco all about lefties and has all lefty things like mugs and cups and notebooks. I have adapted to using a right passed manual can opener too. I’ve used it so much I think if I bought a lefty one it wouldn’t feel right ha ha.