Archive for November, 2013

Left Handedness

I have started working with a few small groups of children with the handwriting classes and I’m finding more left handed children in my care than I had come across in my teaching at public schools. This brought me to ask myself, ” What do I know about individuals who prefer to use their left hand (especially in writing)?”  The answer was, “Not enough!” So I took on the challenge and started reading all about left handers! The first text I read was, “Loving Lefties” by Jane M. Healey, Ph.D, 2001. The second text I read was, “Children and Handedness: Making the Right Choice” by Geoffrey K Platt, 2012.

I will be posting different tips and tools that I have learned from these great resources over the next few weeks. 

One of the most helpful tools that I was reading in Loving Lefties was how to first identify if a child is left handed or not. It is critical to understand that children who are left handed are more prone to using BOTH hands for different tasks; whereas individuals who are right handed, primarily use their right hand for everything (eating, dressing, creating, writing, ext…). Dr. Healey states, ” Some children prefer to use their left hands for fine motor skills such as writing and brushing their teeth and their right hands for skills such as throwing batting a baseball. In fact, about half of all left-handers have mixed preferences. As long as the child consistently uses the same hand for a given activity, such as writing, this is not a problem” (Loving Lefties, Jane M Healey, 2001, pg 46). In order, then to identify if your child is left or right hand just takes a few observations. A parent can start observing his/her child at the time of 3 months (and even birth) because handedness is primarily genetically inherited. Dr. Healey reviews a few hand/brain studies and states the following facts, “Having one left-handed parent increases your chance of being left handed [20-25%]….Having two left-handed parents increases your chances further [50%]” (Loving Lefties, Jane M Healey, 2001, pg 15). For this article, I will focus on identifying lefties after the age of 4 years of age.

Dr. Healey states in her book that her diagnosis is a cumulative review of how the child uses his/her hands when given a variety of tasks to perform. These tasks range from sensorimotor, perceptual and language tasks. The reasoning for her whole child approach is due to the fact that children who are left handed may have a dominant right side of their brain OR a dominate left side of their brain; either way, observations become more telling of how a child perceives his/her world.

Say to the child, “Show me how you….”

Look through a hole in a paper L/R/Both              (this gives the observer the indication of which eye is dominant)

Kick a ball L/R/both                                              (handedness and footness go…well, hand in hand and is telling of lateral preference)

Step on a bug L/R/Both                                       (handedness and foot preference)

Write L/R/Both                                                   (fine motor skill)

Comb your hair L/R/Both                                   (fine motor skill)

Brush Teeth L/R/Both                                        (fine motor skill)

Cut with Scissors L/R/Both                               (child may talk about which is more comfortable)

Throw a ball L/R/Both                                       (gross/large motor skill)

Hit a ball with a bat L/R/Both                             (gross/large motor skill)

Use a racket L/R/Both                                       (gross/large motor skill)

Hammer a nail L/R/Both                                   (coordination)

Use a screwdriver L/R/Both                             (coordination)

Cut food with a knife L/R/Both                          (coordination)

Flip a coin L/R/Both                                           (coordination)

Open a door with a key L/R/Both                     (coordination)

 

If your child prefers fine motor activities with his/her left hand and gross motor activities with his/her right hand, that’s ok! Let them do what is natural for them and their bodies. What do you, then, if your child has a preference for writing/fine motor activities with his/her left hand? How, as a right handered, can you teach your own child?

A few tips:

1. Let the child know that it’s ok to use the hand that is more comfortable 

2. Become a mirror. When teaching your child how to tie a shoe, how to write his/her name, sit across from the child so that he/she sees everything “backward” in your eyes but frontward to him/her. 

OR

3. Use your left hand and become a model on how to use the left hand

4. MOST  IMPORTANT: get tools that are designed for individuals that use their left hand. Kids would benefit from: left handed notebooks, left handed rulers, left handed scissors, etc…

Here’s a few resources that sell left handed products

http://www.leftyscorner.com/

http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/us/

http://www.amazon.com 

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November 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment


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