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How to pursue this with the teacher without being really annoying?! (Left handed writing issue)

(41 Posts)
Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 11:20:36

I was given lots of useful advice on here about what support and resources are available for left-handed reception children.

My ds is being taught to form his letters as right-handed children would be. I broached this with his teacher after reading that there are templates for left-handed formation available. The teacher just said that they all learn the same way, and when I raised this again during our one to one meeting he stated that it was the school's handwriting policy, and that ds would be expected to form his letters this way throughout his time at school.

I am not really happy with this as an answer - the teacher admitted that it will take the left-handers in his class longer to learn this way. I have now requested and a received a copy of the handwriting policy for the school and it does not include any statement that suggests that left-handers should not be accommodated.

The school secretary had read the document herself and said that as it is very vague I should refer back to my ds's teacher. I really don't want to start off on the wrong foot, and I don't want to appear to be questioning his teaching but I do feel that it is important to address the possibility of using resources to support my ds, as he is reluctant enough to sit and write. How can I say that I disagree with his approach without annoying him??

Thank you!

lljkk Tue 21-Oct-08 11:27:55

How strict is your school about letter formation?
DS1 is rt-handed but, (bear with me) he has never formed most of his letters or any of his numbers the way they are supposed to in class. He sort of came up with his own system. I think as long as he was progressing ok (the final letter looked alright), the teachers shrugged their shoulders and let him get on with it.

I just suspect you could show your son at home the other left/handed way, and maybe he'd find his own comfortable way of writing.

DS2 is ambidextrous, by the way, there's a real conundrum in how he should write!

NightOfTheLivingThread Tue 21-Oct-08 11:29:56

I honestly wouldn't make a big deal of it, unless your son is having profound difficulties.

I'm left handed. It really doesn't make life that hard, and when you son is older he'll develop a style that suits him.

For now, I would have thought that setting things up differently from his peers would make for as many difficulties as it (might) solve.

Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 11:37:33

This is what I am wondering too, whether I am making a big deal of it... He can form his letters quite happily 'backwards', and he has to really think about it and try hard to do it the right-handed way.

Some posters on here had said that they were asked if there children were l/h or r/h when they started school, and given the appropriate letter formation sheet.

I don't really know how strict they are - the reason I raised it initially with the teacher was because he is sending home a name-tag for each child, and has said that it is important that they form the letters as indicated on this tag. My ds would form them in the opposite way, and I don't want him to think he is doing it wrong, iykwim.

lljkk - your ds2 is very talented, maybe that will make it easier for him??!!

moosemama Tue 21-Oct-08 12:35:35

My DS1 has struggled with his handwriting for exactly the same reason.

When I pointed out to the teachers in Reception that he was showing strong left hand dominance in writing they brushed it off saying they hadn't noticed and everyone gets taught the same way anyway!

His Y1 teacher was aware that he was left handed, but still laboured the fact that he had to form his letters the same way as the right handed children. He really struggled all year with his written work and we had a lot of tears about hating writing and not wanting to ever do any.

He is now in Y2. I have been working with him since the beginning of last year, reminding him to tilt the page and move the paper up etc and he seems to suddenly have improved significantly. His teacher this year hasn't mentioned the left handedness specifically, but says she is aware that he struggles with his handwriting and is really pleased with the progress he is now making. In fact he won an award last week for making such an effort and improvement since the beginning of term.

I don't think it is ideal or easy for him to have to form his letters in the right handed way, but the school were obviously not going to help him learn to do it the other way and eventually it seems to have come together for him.

We don't do specific exercises btw, I just sit with him while he does his normal homework and if he has any other writing to do (eg birthday cards etc) and work with him to form the letters the way the school wants him to, we always have a spare piece of paper next to us and if he is struggling to get the shape right, he watches me write a row of the letter then does a row himself, then carries on with his work.

I made a specific point of telling him about all the left handed people I knew and how clever/creative they were/are and that they probably all struggled a bit with their writing at first but got there in the end and this seem to really gee him on. I just didn't want him thinking left handed meant stupid, which seemed to be the message he was picking up initially. He now tells people he is special because he is left handed and it is actually something he is proud of.

NightOfTheLivingThread Tue 21-Oct-08 12:42:18

But on the other hand (arf!) my right-handed DS1 struggled for ages with learning to write. I don't think it is helpful to emphasise the differentness of being left handed. It isn't such a big deal in iteself.

Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 13:04:35

Thanks moosemama. I feel like I am being precious about it but I really don't want him to struggle unnecessarily. If the teacher isn't sharing this view, though, I suppose I just have to support him at home like you say.

It just seems such a negative approach, when there are resources available that are specifically aimed at l/h learners. At our one-to-one meeting ds's teacher actually agreed that I should get some of the l/h sheets for helping him at home, but surely this will only contradict what he's being taught in class?! Oh, I don't know...!!!

Im lefthanded and to be honest I struggled with my writing until I left school. Back then there wasn't any kind of support for lefties but if there is something to help now then I would try and get it because I can remember being very frustrated and stressed while trying to learn to write and it being a terrible struggle.

I would even go so far as to say that it impacted on my academic achievement because writing stuff was such an ordeal I'd try to avoid it.

Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 13:33:48

Thanks peasoup, my feeling is that my ds will struggle sad but I think the teacher may just think I am being a PITA! Maybe I will just order the l/h pack and tell the teacher that I will be using this at home.

moosemama Tue 21-Oct-08 13:40:55

Fluffybubble, I don't think you are being precious about it at all. You just don't want to see your little boy struggling and getting upset about this. I know just how you feel having spent many an hour agonising over it myself.

I did get hold of some of the l/h sheets from a friend who is herself both l/h and a teacher but in the end we decided that if he was going to continue to get into trouble at school for doing things 'the wrong way' then he would continue to have his confidence knocked and we would be better trying to give him some extra one-to-one help to master the ways the school wanted him to do things.

Tbh, I am a bit concerned about when he starts writing with ink when he is older though, as learning to write like a r/h writer means that he will be more likely to smudge the ink as his hand gets dragged across the writing he has just completed. I am hoping teaching him to tilt the page and move it up as he writes will minimise this, otherwise he will end up still getting penalised for presentation.

aPPS, I understand what you are saying, obviously on the face of it it would be better to utilise whatever resources are available to help our children. The problem isn't that there isn't any help available these days. You can source it, and pay for it yourself, but then if you use it to help your child, you find you are contradicting the way the school does things and so your child still struggles and gets demotivated and confused.

It's so frustrating, my DH was forced to write with his right hand when he was at school so things have moved on a bit, but definitely not enough. It really needs to be recognised, that just allowing them to use their left hands is not going far enough to help l/h children. They need extra help and to be taught a slightly different way of doing things. No-one should be made to struggle and/or feel they are inferior just for which hand they use.

Tortington Tue 21-Oct-08 13:43:05

i got given a seet that allowed ds one to trace the letters in a way which allowed him to see what he was writing ( left handers will know what i mean)

sounds fucking mad this policy

hellywobs Tue 21-Oct-08 13:54:13

Why are we still so weird about left-handers? They make up 10% of the population and then there are the "hybrids" like my mum and son, who hold their knife and fork the opposite way round!

Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 14:00:55

Moosemama, you are very sensible! Your final paragraph just sums this up, my ds is already trying to correct himself and he has only just started to write! It's not a positive or constructive approach imo.

I don't want to fall out with ds's teacher, and there is little point if the other teachers in the school will not support a l/h style either. My mum (a teacher) is all for raising this with the governors, as the class teacher is claiming it is a policy issue, but I think this is a possible last resort!

Custy, you are right, being able to see what you are writing would seem to be a sensible approach, but that appears to be too logical!

AbbeyA Tue 21-Oct-08 16:11:21

I am left handed and I don't see how you can form your letters in a left handed way. I did that when I started school and it involved writing from right to left with every letter back to front-I wish that the whole world wrote like that-but the don't!
If you write from left to right you cover your writing as you go, however you form your letters. You need them to flow to do joined writing and unfortunately they flow the wrong way.
Can someone explain how you would form them?
Take the letter 'a' for example. Perhaps I am missing something and could use it-my handwriting isn't too good!

AbbeyA Tue 21-Oct-08 16:13:32

I am not being difficult-I would love to know how a left hander could do it differently!
I am rather cross because I never realised there was a lefthanded way to knit and it is too late to change now.

wheresthehamster Tue 21-Oct-08 16:29:41

All the children in our Reception class are learning to form the letters in the same way. This includes children who can write already so they are re-learning about some letters as well. The left-handers don't find it any more difficult. In the same way as they don't find the rght-handed computer mouse difficult. The only difference made in the classroom is we have left-handed scissors.

nailpolish Tue 21-Oct-08 16:32:46

sometimes i still write words backwards
its easier
i was taught to form letters the same way but as i got older i just did what i wanted
my writing is quite neat as a matter of fact
dotn stress about it

nailpolish Tue 21-Oct-08 16:33:26

i use a mouse in muy left hand
i just use a differeent finger to click
no big deal

AbbeyA Tue 21-Oct-08 16:34:37

I use a right handed computer mouse-it is too difficult to keep changing when you share a computer. I wouldn't mind teaching letter formation in a left handed way if I knew what the left handed way was-I am hoping someone is going to explain.

nailpolish Tue 21-Oct-08 16:36:14

an O is the easiest to explain
a right handed person would write an O clockwise
a left handed person writes it anti clockwise
same with 8
and L handers cross their T from right to left
etc

nailpolish Tue 21-Oct-08 16:36:57

or is it L handers do it clockwise??
i am confuse d now

Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 16:41:45

Abbey - For example, my ds would form a letter T by crossing from right to left, a r/h would usually cross from left to right. He would also form an 'O' from the bottom anti-clockwise, whereas I would start at the top...etc. It is the correct starting point that is an issue at the moment...He also mirror-writes (correct term?!), which is another issue!

hamster - I know that my ds definitely does find it more difficult to write this way. He also uses a right-handed computer mouse (buttons are the same way round) but prefers to use his left hand. I think the issue for me is having the element of choice, rather than 'the r/h way is just the way we do it'.

nix66 Tue 21-Oct-08 16:41:50

My DD is in year 2 and is a leftie. She is constantly coming home from school saying her teacher has commented on her handwriting being untidy and hard to read. I have Parents Evening tonight so will broach the subject there. Do schools generally do anything to help left handers?

I know they position them at desks so they don't bump arms when writing, but surely there should be some provision for them? Yesterday I ordered a Pencil version of the Yoro-pen which apparently stops smudging.

Luckily my dd uses her either hand when using the mouse!

Fluffybubble Tue 21-Oct-08 16:42:33

Thanks nailpolish! Much better explanation!

AbbeyA Tue 21-Oct-08 16:43:42

I have just googled it and got very good explanations. It seems that I do it already!
The o is written anti clockwise by right handers anyway. The only different letters are the t and f where the cross goes the opposite way. Some capital letters can be formed differently (I expect it is because they don't join).
anything left handed
I don't think that there is much a reception teacher can do except watch them and let them do the capitals a different way.

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