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Help for left handed children

Left-handed children can find life a little more difficult because they cannot easily use some of the right-handed equipment they are given. If their parents and teachers are right-handed, they often will not realise the difficulties the child is facing and the child can become labeled as clumsy, awkward, or difficult.

These sorts of problems are easily solved in most cases with some simple advice and by taking advantage of the specially designed left-handed tools that are available for the main tasks, such as writing and cutting.

We hope you find this information useful and we would be pleased to hear from you about any problems you or your child have faced that are not covered - Click Here To Email Lauren. Also, we have put some links to general parenting and child development information at the bottom of this page.

  Cutting with scissors
Writing
Early writers
Specialist pens
Calligraphy
Books and video
Web resources links

Cutting with Scissors

When young children first start to cut out shapes with scissors it is a big step, and a very frustrating one if you can't do it and everyone else can! A left-handed child using right-handed scissors will find that they cannot see the line they are supposed to be cutting along and the paper or card will bend between the blades rather than cutting cleanly.

Cutting properly with left-handed scissors

The blades on left-handed scissors are set so that, whichever way up you hold them, the left blade is always on top. This means that the cutting action of the left hand pushes the blades together to give a smooth cut the whole length of the blades and also that a left-hander has a clear view of the cutting line.

Cutting out shapes becomes a doddle! Parents are often amazed at how good the child they thought was "hopeless as cutting anything" has become when they first try a pair of left-handed scissors.

When a left-hander uses right-handed scissors, they have to push the thumb and index finger together in an unnatural way to make the scissors cut, causing marks on the hand and eventually callouses. Also, they have to look over the top blade, which obscures the cutting line. With properly designed left-handed scissors these problems do not arise, as your natural cutting action matches that of the scissors. Just hold the scissors straight and naturally and do not try to twist the blades. After a short time, you will be completely comfortable with your new scissors and wonder how you put up with misusing right-handed scissors for so long! All our scissors are fully left-handed with blades reversed and left hand moulded grips.

A word of warning! As we have explained, it is not possible to make "ambidextrous scissors", although many manufacturers claim their scissors are "universal" or "suitable for left and right hand use". This only refers to the handles, which have not been moulded to fit the right hand knuckle, but they have no advantage for left-handers whatsoever. Rather than buy them, you might be better writing a strongly worded complaint to the manufacturer! (see our FAQ section for more info.)

Cutting neatly with left-handed scissors

LEFT-HANDED SCISSORS
With the blades reversed so the left blade is on top, you can see the cutting line and the blades have a proper cutting action when squeezed together. The grips are moulded to fit comfortably around the thumb joint.

Right handed scissors are very difficult to use

RIGHT-HANDED SCISSORS
The top blade covers the cutting line so you usually end up cutting inside it. The blades are pushed apart by the left handed squeezing movement and the paper bends between the blades. Also, the handle shape is very uncomfortable and leaves marks on the left thumb

We have a range of left-handed scissors for children of different ages in our online shop.

Writing

Left-handed children can have real trouble when they first start writing as they have to push their pen or pencil across the page from left to right rather than pulling it like a right-hander. This tends to make the point dig into the paper rather than flowing smoothly. Also, as their hand is following the pen, it is easy to smudge the work and make a real mess!

These problems are made even worse when they have to start writing with a proper nib in a cartridge- or fountain pen. These nibs are specially designed to slide on the paper and give a smooth ink flow when pulled with the RIGHT hand. When a child tries to push it across the paper with the LEFT hand all they get is a lot of scratching and no ink!

To solve this problem, they try to position their body and paper and hold the pen at an angle that will make it write and this can result in the very uncomfortable"hook" style of writing - definitely to be avoided!

A much better solution is to use a specially designed left-handed pen that has the nib cut-off in the other direction or has a rounded ball at the end of the nib that allows it to write smoothly when being pushed. The nib design is also reversed so that the ink will flow smoothly with the LEFT side of the nib pressed to the paper rather than the right.

These differences in a small nib may not look very significant, but they make a huge difference when you are learning to write (and for the rest of your life!). We have a range of left-handed pens available in our online shop.

As well as using the correct pens, it is helpful to adopt a good position:

* Rotate the paper about 45 degrees clockwise (move the top to the right)

* Hold the pen / pencil with a good "3 point grip" between the thumb, index and middle fingers

* Keep the hand and wrist UNDER the writing line

* Writing on a sloped surface can also help

The picture shows:
Writewell mat with guidance on paper position
Left-handed cartridge pen

Correct writing position for a left-hander

We have produced a FREE Handwriting Factsheet, which gives plenty of advice and suggestions to help you improve your child's writing style.

Click here to see our 'Free Handwriting Factsheet'. *

*(To view the Handwriting Factsheet you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have it on your computer click here for free download)

Early writers

For younger children starting to draw and write, it is very important to get them started with the correct grip and writing position. A moulded pencil grip or triangular bodied pencils and pens can help a lot, as can oversized pencils and pens as they encourage the critical "tri-point grip".

You can see a range of specially selected pens, pencils, crayons and felt pens in our online shop.

Specialist pens

There have been a lot of specially designed pens that are supposed to help left-handers and we have tried them all! The ones that we recommend are:

Stabilo 'sMove rollerball pens with their moulded bodies made in a special left-handed version.
Yoropens, with their offset writing points making it easier to see what you are writing and the moveable rubber grip making them comfortable in the left hand. They certainly deserve all the design awards they have won and are a favourite in the Anything Left-handed office.
Stabilo non-smudge fibretips - chunky pens with fine points and very fast drying in to avoid smudging

Calligraphy - The Art of Beautiful Writing

If children become interested in Calligraphy, they will find that the problems of writing with a nib pen are a lot worse when they use a wider nib.

The origin of the word "calligraphy", is Greek, with 'kah' meaning beautiful and 'graphos' meaning writing. Calligraphy can definitely be defined as the art of beautiful writing!

Many children enjoy this special art form and those who become skilled will find it very creative and great fun. It could be said that Calligraphy may be more difficult for a left-hander to master, but with the correct materials, instructions, a little patience and practice, beautiful work can be achieved.

POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN TEACHING YOURSELF CALLIGRAPHY

  1. Your writing position should be comfortable. Body and shoulders directly facing the table and head 12-14 inches above your work, to avoid rounded shoulders.
  2. Think of your mum - use washable ink!
  3. If using a lamp or other artificial light, place it to the right of your work to avoid shadows.
  4. A sloped desk makes writing easier - try propping up a board with a tin, can or jar at the top corners.
  5. Be adventurous with pictures to accompany your letters.
  6. Only use the correct pens designed for left-hand use - it's much less frustrating.
  7. Relax and enjoy. BUT remember, once you have mastered the art of Calligraphy, refuse to do your Mum's list of Christmas cards (unless you negotiate a fee first!)

We have a great book on left-handed calligraphy by Vance Studeley and also a wide range of calligraphy pens and sets with properly angled left-handed nibs. 

Books and Video

There are several books that give advice on left-handed handwriting and give exercises for practicing the correct style and letter formations (see our page on left-handed letter formations). There are also more general books on left-handedness and why left-handers are generally creative and successful people!

See the range of books available in our online shop

Video on helping left handed children
We have also produced a video 'Left-Handed Children, A Guide for teachers and parents' which has proved to be an invaluable teaching resource. The Chief Executive of the Teacher Training Agency comments:
'An extremely useful resource for the initial training and continuing professional development for teachers. We found it very informative and thought provoking. It raises some important concerns and will encourage teachers to recognise the left-handed issue'

Estelle Morris, Minister for School Standards at the time, commented:
'This video can play a part in raising teachers awareness of the particular issues surrounding left-handed children, I extend my congratulations and thanks to all involved'

The video is available from our on-line shop or by phoning 01737 888269

Web resources on parenting and child development

We review a lot of web sites and these are the ones that we think give the best help - we hope you find them useful:

Families and Parenting FamiliesandParenting.com has books and videos on parenting, child discipline and pregnancy offering parenting advice. Books about raising children, child discipline, teen parenting, baby care, pregnancy, family relationships, and more.
Focus On Your Child Focus on Your Child aims to help parents bond together, share practical parenting advice, and encourage one another to make the most of the parenting years. Featuring Dr. James Dobson and Focus on the Family.
For Parents by Parents Parenting information and advice for parents of 0-5 year old children. Parental experiences and situations are discussed, plus practical solutions to baby and toddler issues. Real parents offering other parents help and support.
Parent Coaching The Parent Coaching Company will help you enjoy your parenting and raise happy, confident children.
Parenting Child Development Parenting: Parent magazine helps you understand child development, child behavior and create a loving relationship with your children.
Parenting Magic Parenting Ebooks - Fast help for parents
School Fundraiser
Lots of information on raising funds for schools
The Healthy Place
The healthy place has a wide variety of information based on health and parenting.
Values Parenting
Values Parenting offers parenting programs, parenting advice, parenting tips, and skills, for parents to raise children and teach values.
Schwablearning
A parents guide to helping children with learning disabilities

If you have a web site related to helping children and their parents, please let us know if you would like to exchange links.

 

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