The majority of us are right handers. And if we’ve had no direct experience of left handed children we’re probably unaware of the fact that this can sometimes present challenges for them in a right handed world.
And there are challenges, as Richard Easterbrook discusses in his enlightening article written from a left hander’s perspective.
He says that although he was never subjected to being forced to change his left-handedness as has happened in the past, the mere fact of being left handed created attitudes towards him when he couldn’t perform in a right handed way, for example playing the guitar or in using of cutlery, which were not always helpful.
Campaigners for left-handers say that being left handed in school often inhibits performance when the simplest of obstacles are not understood. Like knocking elbows with your right handed companion, or mastering handwriting, for example.
Developmentally, children tend to settle into which hand will be their dominant one between two and four, whenever they begin to hold and use tools and pens and similar objects, especially when simple tasks become more intricate. (An article here has a more in-depth look at the development of left handers and how it affects other skills).
When they are involved in more complex tasks as their education progresses their left-handedness may present more challenges. Although we don’t want to make an issue out of something when there isn’t one, there may be times when a left hander will need a little extra consideration in the following ways:
- Being aware that there are challenges for left-handers, rather than dismissing them, will change our attitudes and this will immediately feel more supportive for a left-hander and avoid the kind of feeling Richard encountered.
- In the article above it tells us that the development of motor and manipulative skills, along with language and sensory abilities, is sometimes affected by being left handed. Our understanding and patience will help us better support a left-handed learner.
- Left-handers can find it more difficult to write easily and legibly. Pick up a pen with your left and you’ll see some of the difficulties in something as simple as positioning in regard to seeing the writing, for example. They’ll need extra tolerance and encouragement.
- Provide left handed scissors. The way the blades are set makes it much easier for a left hander to use. This can be the same for other tools and materials too. A left hander may require more time to complete certain tasks.
- Some left-handers have especially strong skills in others areas, like at sports. Recognising a left-hander’s particular strengths and encouraging them as much as possible will boost their confidence and have a knock on effect on their wider attainment.
There’s more information and support for left-handed children at www.lefthandedchildren.org