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Left-Handed Children


Special Thanks to Anything Left-Handed Ltd for supplying following the information:

How soon can you tell if your child is left-handed?

It is not uncommon for children of nursery age to still be undecided as to their dominant hand, as we all develop at different rates. Most babies use both hands to begin with, and rarely show any preference before about 7-9 months old. By about 18 months many children use one hand consistently.

Most children have a preferred writing hand by 5 years old, but their brains and co-ordination are still developing and hand preference too, can continue to develop until 9 years old. Whatever preference a child shows, it is important to let them develop naturally, as they will only choose the hand that is better able to complete whatever task is set, at their brain's stage of development. Even if your child has not decided on their hand preference by the time they start nursery, you can watch their development by noting:

1. Which hand they use to reach for toys and crayons placed directly in front of them.
2. Which hand they prefer to feed themselves with (either finger food or spoon).
3. Which hand do they prefer to stir with, if helping you bake a cake. Left-handers usually stir anti-clockwise.
4. When drawing, or attempting to form letters,left-handers usually prefer to work from the right, away from the body to the left, which is a more natural movement.
5. Left-handed children experimenting with toys and tools will try to turn things anti-clockwise, against the thread of a screw, or to wind up a toy by unwinding it!
6. When standing on one leg, feel more secure standing on the left. (If you are helping them to dress, get the right leg ready first for them to step in).
7. Which hand do they brush their teeth with/comb their hair with (Catching and throwing a ball is a mixture of dominant hand and dominant eye, so is not always an accurate measure of hand preference).

Should you try to change a child’s handedness?
The short and emphatic answer is "No"! Handedness is determined by the brain, not the hand, and the most versatile hand is that which helps brain and hand work together for language and writing.

Left-handedness is part of a persons makeup, not a trend or habit that can be quashed or discouraged. With consideration and encouragement, left-handers can learn to overcome many of the obstacles encountered through living in a right-handed world. They will have the confidence to explore the sporting, musical and artistic activities at which they so often excel, and in doing so become far more adaptable,confident and capable.

As a right-handed parent, how can I help my left-handed child learn everyday skills, like tying shoelaces?
For a right-handed parent, it is soon evident that helping a left-handed child with everyday tasks needs a little consideration. If you are right-handed, teaching left-handed children to tie their shoe laces, ties, or to sew and knit can be tackled best by sitting opposite them, as your right-handed actions are then automatically reversed and gives them a mirror image to copy, rather than sitting beside them to demonstrate. This applies to many learning situations and is a good rule of thumb which can be used by any right-handed teacher or parent.

Will being left-handed cause my child any problems at school?
It is important to be aware that there are varying degrees of left-handedness and that, while most left-handers will experience no difficulties or, at worst, only minor ones, there are others who will need special help. Fortunately, most of the common pitfalls that befall left-handers in school can be prevented if the teacher and parent know what to look for.

Many teachers are very sensitive to the needs of the left-handers in their classroom, but you should always make them aware your child is left-handed and chat to them to find out how considerate they are to it. A training video for Parents and Teachers of Left-Handed Children, produced with the support of the Teacher Training Agency is available from Anything Left-Handed, and is an effective way to supply teachers with the necessary information.