Around 10% of the population is left-handed, including some of us at Love Writing Co.! Learning to write can be a difficult process for left-handed children as writing practice at school is designed for the 90% who are right-handed. There are different techniques left-handed children need to be taught when learning to write as they have to push their pen across the page rather than pull it like a right-hander. Without the correct support, this can lead left-handers with problems such as a poor pencil grasp, smudged work, and strained muscles. To avoid these issues, we have collated some useful tips for how you can help your child get to grips with writing from the start.
1. Position the paper correctly.
When your child sits to practice writing, sit their paper slightly to the left of centre, and rotate it roughly 45 degrees clockwise (moving the top right corner down slightly). This makes it easier for your child to see the nib of the pencil as they're writing.
2. Use the right hand for stability.
Help your child place their right hand flat on the right-hand side of the paper to prevent the page from shifting as they write.
3. Keep the wrist below the line to avoid the ‘hook’ hand.
Without the proper training, left-handed writers often develop an uncomfortable ‘hooked’ wrist position, where the wrist curls in order to see what they’re writing and not smudge their work. It is important to encourage your child to keep the pencil on the line, with the wrist below the line to improve their vision, reduce arm strain and prevent smudging. Correct paper positioning and pencil grip will also help maintain this correct hand position.
4. Hold the pencil in the right place.
Ideally left-handers should hold the pen or pencil roughly 2-3cm from the point to enable them to see their writing and avoid ‘hooking’ with the writing hand or adopting awkward neck posture when writing. Indicate where they should hold the pencil with a line of nail varnish or a small elastic band wrapped around the desired area, which can be removed once the child is familiar with the position.
5. Practice the tripod grip.
Show your child how to hold the pen/pencil with the correct tripod grip between the thumb, index and middle fingers (see below). This grip, taught during the early stages along with sitting and paper position, should eliminate the ‘hooked’ hand problem.
6. Sit lefties on the left.
If you’re helping both your children with their homework, be sure the left-handed child is sitting on the left to avoid their elbows clashing as they write.
7. Use the correct tools.
When children start writing, it is far easier to use soft leaded pencils rather than pens to reduce writing pressure and avoid smudging. Pencils with broader and softer leads - 2B rather than HB - help reduce writing pressure. Whilst pencils with a wider diameter are well-suited to left handers as they encourage the critical tripod grip. Love Writing Co. Pencils are specially designed for little hands as they have a wider diameter so they are easier to hold, a softer core so the pencil moves smoothly across the page, and a hexagonal shape to encourage the correct tripod grip. The pencils are also the correct length for a child's hand, making them easy to balance and control - perfect for left-handers.
8. Use writing practice sheets.
By using writing sheets filled with fun characters and rewards, your child will feel greater encouragement and consider practising their writing as something enjoyable rather than a dull task. Love Writing Co. has a selection of engaging Handwriting Practice Books supporting KS1 learning. The books cover letter and word formation and have a variety of fun tracing exercises and colouring pictures to add variation to the learning journey. As well as this, reward stickers feature on every page of the workbooks, using positive reinforcement to ensure little learners feel a sense of achievement throughout their writing journey.