Left-handers may have more difficulty with handwriting than right-handers and for various reasons. For one, our culture simply favors right-handers and left-to-right progression. Pulling a pencil or pen across the paper is easier than pushing it. And, as your child moves their left hand across the paper, it covers the words they've already written and it often smears the pencil marks too.
Notebook rings or spiral bindings can get in their way — even their desk could be an obstacle if they're sitting in one of those dated right-handed school desks.
Your left-handed child has already learned certain habits counterproductive to good handwriting by the time they go to school like how they hold their pencil. If you can learn some positive instruction techniques, you can avoid your child acquiring these habits.
Handwriting Tips to Help you Help Your Left-Handed Child
You may think that teaching your child left-handed writing is simply the opposite of teaching them right-handed writing. It's much more than that. Many parents are confused or intimidated about how to accurately teach their left-handed child how to write. Following these tips below can help.
- Encourage them to use the "Tripod" grasp. This is where they pinch their pencil with their thumb and index finger letting it rest on their middle finger. Right-handed writers do the same. Encouraging the tripod grasp will help your child develop proper wrist position and dynamic finger movements later on so they're not predisposed to "hooking" their wrist like many left-handers do.
- Teach proper page positioning. Teach your child the correct paper tilt and position. You'll also want to explain to them that they position their paper differently than right-handers so they can see their writing while they write. Show them the difference between their paper tilt and position and how a right-hander would position their paper and how it affects their ability to see their own writing.
- Change their pencil. Change your left-handed child's pencil to a hard lead pencil. Instead of them using a Number 2 pencil, have them use a Number 3 so it doesn't smear as easily. Oversized or primary pencils aren't necessarily better for lefties either — they even hinder some kids with small hands the larger the size.
- Encourage use of their helper hand. Teach your child how to turn their right hand into their helper hand. In the classroom, teachers don't always show students how to use their non-dominant hand to stabilize their papers. However, the more your child stabilizes their paper, the less frustration it will cause them when writing because it won't slide around on them.
You may want to talk with a San Diego pediatric occupational therapist for more tips. They have a lot of experience with dysgraphia and other writing difficulties like left-handedness.