Having A 'Leftie' Child

I've started working in my school's nursery this year, and I've been brought to reliving the fascinating life of a three year old. A little creature who isn't much out of the toddler stage, who is encountering everything in the world for the first time, yet within a year is going to have to start full-time education. Gosh sometimes, it feels very harsh on the poor little mites.

One of the things that we're working on (but only for those who are ready, of course) is their ability to hold a pencil to mark-make. It's fascinating to observe the different stages of development. I've got one little boy in my group who has a reverse palmer grip (holds it like a knife) and his mark making consists of zigzag patterns, while the young lady next to him holds her pencil with a mature tripod grip and can produce detailed drawings of her family members with the correct number of fingers and toes, and adds glasses and beards where appropriate. Then we have the children who haven't decided on their dominant hand yet and switch back and forth between left and right, often as they're actually mark-making.

It reminded me of the early days of The Boy's exploration of writing and mark-making. When he was around three years old, he had cause to write his name one day, and it surprised me to see him write it completely in reverse. Not just reversing the letter formation, but he wrote it backwards as well, as if it were a mirror image.

It intrigued me greatly.

I didn't correct him as he was trying so hard and was incredibly tired after a long day at his aunt's wedding (however, as it was in her guest book I did apologise to her), but it made me stop at the time and consider how his brain must have been trying to process the things he encountered.

The Boy has always been left-handed, since he was able to pick up anything it was with his left-hand. And it goes without saying that I'm certainly not going to try and correct it, but it makes me stop and think in a way I never have before. As a teacher I was well aware of aides for the children like sitting them on the left end of a table so they didn't bang elbows with their 'neighbour', slanting paper 45° so that the lower right hand corner is touching the table's edge. Any other direction and his writing ends up lying down flat on the lines, it's so slanted.

Paper layout for left-handers

He's always used his knife and fork in a conventional right-handed manner, but he does struggle sometimes when he needs to use a fork as a scoop for peas and the like. He prefers his glass at the top of his fork, not his knife. In his pencil tin there are left-handed scissors but he prefers to use right-handed pairs. And don't even get me started on the left-handed ruler that I bought him; it blew his mind.

However, there's a biggy coming up that we haven't encountered yet and really need to deal with.


How on earth do we teach him to tie shoelaces?!

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  1. says

    Eek! My 15yo is left-handed and has the most appalling hand-writing, so much so that he has permission from school to use a laptop for his GCSEs. I had no idea there was a good place for him to sit or that he should be using his paper at a certain angle! I doubt in a busy class full of teenagers that the teachers help him with this sort of stuff.
    I hate to say this and he won't admit it's true, but he still can't tie his shoelaces!

  2. says

    I'm a leftie and I don't recall struggling particularly with anything once I'd mastered avoiding elbows. I don't tilt my paper that direction, if anything it's the other way and my writing is either upright or slightly backwards. But it's never been perfectly nice writing, it's always gone through different styles and looks (and now is just a carefree scrawl that I think is legible but the OH can't read – although his writing looks like a 7 year old's learning to write so I don't think he can comment really).

    Left handed scissors are the devil – I could never cope with them, and I also use the knife and fork the right handed way (as does my leftie brother, although he's a bit more ambidextrous than me thanks to sports). The hardest thing is using a bread knife, but I still cut straighter than my RH OH.

    It's interesting to see the different side in N who is right handed. He was a zig zagger at nursery – he had a perfect tripod grip from the start, but didn't write more than the first 3 letters of his name until reception. But he uses a knife and fork the left handed way. To me it makes more sense that way because you don't have to change your fork into the other hand when using that or a spoon on its own. But obviously then it takes a bit of work with a knife in the wrong hand. That's the one he switches over willy nilly. The OH gets annoyed, but I'm of the view if he's happy doing it that way and can do it neatly, then that's fine. It did take a long time for him to decide on being right handed though.

    It's definitely an interesting topic.

    Oh, and shoe laces, just the same way I suppose. I bow with the left hand, wrap round with the right. Not sure if that's normal or not. N won't even try and that's my aim for when he's 6. To teach him

  3. says

    Shoe laces aren’t too bad – I’m a leftie, and actually teaching H stuff (she’s right handed) works out easier as she’s copying me like a mirror. Sort of…

    For shoelaces I did the two loops and tie them together as you would when you start tying shoelaces – the sort of half reef knot one. That seemed to work for H (and I think Shaun ties them that way, he does it oddly). I usually do it more like a tie (that one was quite tricky but H cracked it when she knew she’d get a Hogwarts tie). You can’t go wrong with the two loops way!

  4. says

    Some of mine are left handed and so is Farmer Nick. Drives me mad when they lay the table for dinner! I'd never thought about the problem of tying laces. May be that's why Theo does it with two lops and a knot still?

  5. says

    I have found a kindred spirit!
    I did mirror writing until I was about eight- I was told it was a sign of genius- by my special ed teacher 😉 (I also had speech therapy to boot).
    I had no idea of places at the table and positioning of paper, although a lot of fellow lefties did do the hand coming round the pen thing which looked really uncomfortable, and the smudging of ink.
    Which oddly I never had a problem with- I was and remain in the 'no-camp' for left hand specific objects, my brother and I are both lefties- neither of us could use the scissors, I couldn't use the fountain pen I prefer to break standard ones in.
    Shoes, I started as a bunnies knot when everyone else could do theirs as I do them now.
    Watch is on the left hand, oddly now typing so much it's bracelets on my right hand which annoys me more.
    But thank you. Love this post, love that you're back blogging, and thank you for looking after the lefties.

  6. says

    It is bizarre having a left handed child. My oldest is left handed and trying to help him tie his shoelaces was a nightmare. He watched a you tube video of a left handed person and got it straight away x

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