August 13th is international left handers day, the one day of the year that all left handers can celebrate.

What do we know about being left handed?

Left handers account for about 10% of the population. There are more boys than girls who are left handers. Left handedness is genetic. It is still challenging to trace back through the family tree for left handedness, as back a generation ago left handers were seen to be evil. Their hands were tied behind their backs and they were made to write with their “right” hands.

What’s it like being left handed?

I love being left handed because it is different. However there are some common things we all struggle with – smudging our work, using spiral notebooks, writing in a 3 ring binder, desks in lecture theatres with the desks positioned to the right, using a knife & fork, cutting, writing in a cheque book and in the kitchen…..where do I start, using a can opener, pouring, scraping, measuring, chopping. Everything is designed for the right hander! No wonder left handers are often clumsy.

Handwriting is one of the most challenging tasks for a left hander. A leftie pushes the pencil across the page, they don’t pull it like a right hander does. Pulling is a much smoother action. When your child transitions into a new class go and have a chat with the teacher about your left handed child and some of the accommodations you would like made.

Here are some tips to help your child.

1.     Make sure your child is sitting on the end of a row, or to the left of another student. This allows them to write smoothly without bumping another child.

2.     Your child should have more space on the left of the table to rest their arm.

3.     When writing, your child needs to tilt the top of page to the right ie. parallel to his forearm.

4.     Watch your child’s pencil grip and writing style. Make sure they keep their wrist straight. While it is frustrating writing over the top of your work, you don’t want your child to end up with the “hooked” grip that you often see in left handers. This grip occurs when a child positions their arm above their writing and hooks their wrist to write. This grip is not sustainable and will cause pain and fatigue as the demands of handwriting increase.

5.     Make sure your child’s hand is below the line of their writing so they can see what they are doing.

6.     It is difficult for lefties to put in finger spaces between words. You can teach them to imagine they are writing an “O” between words to get the correct sized space.

7.     Make sure your child has access to a pair of left handed scissors. If they are not available at school, send your own pair in.

8.     Can your child use the computer mouse with their right hand? See if they have any positioned for lefties. If not it’s probably better to give your child practice at using their right hand to control the mouse at home.

For more information about left handed and products that are available to help lefties, you might like to check out these websites.