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Writing - Left handers

(25 Posts)
blaeberry Wed 20-Jan-16 10:07:04

My ds is left handed and has SN so I am perhaps more involved than I would otherwise be. However, I was surprised to find that left-handed dc at his school are not being taught to rotate the paper but keep it square in front of them. This is such a simple thing and prevents them developing a bent-wristed 'hook' position which is not as efficient, more tiring and makes writing on white-boards (which they fo a lot) very difficult. Would I be reasonable to raise this with the school?

Flossiesmummy Wed 20-Jan-16 10:32:07

As an ex-teacher and a leftie, in my experience with kids it really is each to their own.

If your child is using proper pencil grip, he shouldn't need to turn the paper. If he's gripping incorrectly, he may find it helps. I'd concentrate on ensuring proper pencil hold though.

Pic for reference in case you don't already know - pencil held between thumb and pointer about an inch from the lead. Pencil resting on third finger. Hand held level with writing lines, not bent round at an angle.

blaeberry Wed 20-Jan-16 12:34:56

It isn't a pencil grip thing (though that is a seperate issue). In your picture as you write you immediately cover your writing with your hand and this would result in smudging (as well as being a problem in itself). It is also completely hopeless if you are trying to write on a white board - you would rub out what you have written as soon as you write it. This is why a lot of left-handed people (eg Barrack Obama and me) develop a bent wrist hook - so they can see what they have written and avoid smudging. But this is poor for efficiency, tires the hand and is still difficult for white-boards. By turning the paper and writing from under the line you avoid these problems.

nailsathome Wed 20-Jan-16 12:42:15

I'm a leftie and a teacher and I raise my hand off the board when writing on it instead of writing from below. Actually I think I do that when using paper to some extent too

badg3r Wed 20-Jan-16 12:46:39

I'm a lefty and didn't realise that the smudging thing was a "thing" till I was about 8 or 10 I think. Just had a look at how I write and you're right, I do tend to have the paper at an angle!

Does your DS smudge or have a claw hand when he writes? Are they insisting that he keep the paper square in front of him?

blaeberry Wed 20-Jan-16 13:05:10

I learnt to write with a fountain pen so was very aware of smudging. Most lefties do turn the paper or have a hook. My ds has dyspraxia, low muscle tone and delayed speech so has enough difficulties writing in any case. Covering each letter as he writes it would not help with spelling, sentence construction or letter placement. Lifting his hand to write on a white board is beyond his dexterity. I am surprised the simple method of optimising paper position is not taught. But then they are also teaching lefties to use a finger to create 'finger spaces' between words...

nailsathome Wed 20-Jan-16 13:34:12

I'm going to ask some primary teacher friends if they have different procedures for teaching lefties. All of these issues hadn't occurred to me and I obviously can't remember how they taught me.

Flossiesmummy Wed 20-Jan-16 15:05:21

Now that you mention your child has SN, he should have already had this shown him. It's a shame he hasn't.

I'm not sure it's something teachers ought to dedicate lesson time to per se.

lunar1 Wed 20-Jan-16 15:10:28

I turn my paper, i wasn't ever told to. In fact I think I was endlessly told off for it, I'd have thought things had moved on from that!

nailsathome Wed 20-Jan-16 15:10:45

Why not Flossie? Lefties need to be taught how to write to overcome the obstacles we face. It should be a consideration when lesson planning.

christinarossetti Wed 20-Jan-16 15:12:21

I disagree flossiemummy. Given that around 10% of people are left-handed, loads of children and adults hold pens and pencils less than optimally and learning to develop a fluid writing style that can be sustained is in the National Curriculum and indeed an important life skill, I think teachers should very much be devoting lesson time to supporting left-handed children to learn to write properly.

My ds is left-handed and his school has a policy for supporting left-handed writing, which involves teaching them to rotate their paper if this helps. Yes, and teaching techniques other than 'finger spaces' which are less intuitive and usually less helpful for left-handed children. Also, making sure that they have elbow space on their left rather than right etc.

OffRoader Wed 20-Jan-16 15:23:36

On a course recently I was taught:

-bottom right corner of page pointing towards child's belly button

- using a board with a slight tilt for writing

- sitting with the light (windows) to the left of the writer.

I would raise it yes.

Flossiesmummy Wed 20-Jan-16 15:27:38

I'm obviously in the minority. As a leftie I find it a minor inconvenience but use biros and hard lead pencils so I don't smudge.

Apologies if I upset anyone.

BathtimeFunkster Wed 20-Jan-16 15:28:29

I'm so glad DH is left handed because he gets these things that are invisible to me.

I hadn't considered any of this, but it makes sense.

Of course! You are covering as you write. That is much harder.

Thanks for posting, I'm going to read more about this to support my 6 year old.

5madthings Wed 20-Jan-16 15:39:31

Dh and I are both left handed and so is ds3, we had issues at the start of primary as they liked to get the kids yo practise writing on little whiteboards,ds3 just smudged his work away, the white board pens also stained the sleeves of his clothes. In the end they gave him a clipboard and paper and yes he turns it to the side as I and dh both do.

He is now yr six and will say if there is an issue for example being sat the wrong side of someone so that they are bashing arms. But I did have to remind his teachers a lot when he was little.

christinarossetti Wed 20-Jan-16 15:40:28

bathtime, yes, you're covering as you write, letter formation of 'c' and all similar letters involves moving your fingers into your hand, rather than away from as for right-handers, you have to 'push' rather than 'pull' to make 'fingers spaces' and you can't make them in the same way as right-handers as your left hand is effectively covering the space when you move it to form the next word.

My ds is also 6 and he's only recently got the hang of regular fingers spaces.

Learning to write as a left-hander isn't a major problem, but they do need some adjustments to optimise writing style and ease.

Kennington Wed 20-Jan-16 15:43:49

I never turned the paper or had a hook BUT I don't have great handwriting
I hate the fuss made so early on about handwriting- if it is legible then that is good enough
Personally I would show him a few different ways at home first before raising it with school unless they insist and make it worse for him!
I really feel for him. I hated all the leftie comments about my bad writing.

BathtimeFunkster Wed 20-Jan-16 15:44:12

Thank you, christina smile

DH isn't very good at explaining why it's hard. Just that it is.

She's not six for another week or so, but her writing could definitely do with improvement and she still writes a lot of her numbers backwards.

mollie123 Wed 20-Jan-16 15:46:02

as a leftie - I do not turn the page or hold the writing implement the way I see lots of lefties hold it.
when I was at school - long time ago - lefties were discouraged and it was not made easier by having to write with dipped in pen or fountain pen
so I mastered the straight on slightly bent wrist to the left to avoid the smudging.
it may have been difficult (I really can't remember) but has served me well in all my writing endeavours and I have seen other lefties use the same action smile

christinarossetti Wed 20-Jan-16 16:04:53

It's not necessarily a fuss about how the handwriting looks Kennington, but ensuring that children are doing all they can to develop an effective writing technique which will stand them in stead for the rest of their life.

It's far more efficient to teach good technique from the start than correct poor technique later on.

maizieD Wed 20-Jan-16 16:51:11

With regard to the angle of the paper I was told years ago on a course that it should be tilted to the left for righthanders and to the right for lefthanders. Square in front of you isn't good for either!

Cedar03 Thu 21-Jan-16 15:31:23

I'm a leftie and I always tilt the page. In fact my daughter who is right handed was playing around trying to write with her left hand the other day. I could see immediately that approaching it as a right handed person meant that she couldn't see what she was writing at all.

prettybird Thu 21-Jan-16 16:26:04

I'm a hook hander: don't "break" my wrist but do point the pen/pencil away from me (so it's not aligned with my arm and the nib is pointing towards me IFYSWIM).

I understand that hook handers tend to be a particular type of left hander. I'm left handed but right eyed dominant, so if I "hook hand" I can still see what I'm writing.

Dh is left handed but also left eyed, and is not a hook hander. I'll have to watch him next time to see if he slants the paper.

Interestingly, his handwriting looks pretty but is impossible to read but my writing looks messy but is easy to read (so said secretaries back in the day when people used to type up letters for you at work wink). I can write neatly but I'm normally trying to write too fast.

The thing about pushing/pulling the pen/pencil I think is indeed an issue as pushing the pen all the time can make your hand tense up. It's important to take time to stretch and relax it if you're doing a lot of writing.

At Uni, when I was doing a lot of writing with a pen, the side of my hand would be permanently ink stained. Nowadays I prefer to do most of my writing in pencil unless I'm writing a cheque grin

Despite both of us being left handed, ds is right handed confused

TheMrsD Thu 21-Jan-16 17:19:40

How about using an A frame type board.. You know the ones artists put on desks? That way the angle of the hand is down rather than leaning to the left.

My DH is right handed and has the hook shape over his page. Strange.

christinarossetti Fri 22-Jan-16 09:50:29

Writing on a slanted surface is good for all young writers as it helps build up hand muscles.

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