Tips for Helping Left-handed Writers

Year Level: Early Years, Foundation, Year 1 & 2, Years 3 to 6

Approximately ten percent of students are left-handed – slightly more boys than girls. If these 10 simple strategies are put in place, then there is no need for left-handed children to be disadvantaged when writing.

  1. Arrange classroom seating so that left-handed students always sit on the left of right-handed children. This will avoid writing hand ‘elbow bumps’. It is also important to group left-handed students together during handwriting lessons.
  2. Remind students to maintain a good posture with their feet flat on the floor, bottom back in chair, and helper hand on the desk.
  3. The writing page should be moved to the left of the student’s midline and slanted correctly – tilt the page (left corner up) keeping the page parallel to the forearm.
  4. The right hand should be used to stabilise the paper at all times, and the right index finger should be used for finger spacing when required.
  5. Correct tripod pencil grip should be encouraged at all times to allow for good control of the pencil. Providing a visual prompt can help. Ensure the pencil rests back in the web space (at the join of the thumb and index finger) – not pointing straight up. Writing on a vertical surface helps to encourage a functional pencil grasp.
  6. The pencil should be held 2cm above the tip so that writing is more visible and smudging of work is avoided. Provide pencils that are not slippery, so that the fingers do not slide down towards the tip.
  7. Softer lead pencils are ideal as they do not require too much friction on the page for lefthanders, who are pushing instead of pulling the pencil from left to right across the page.
  8. To avoid developing a hooked wrist, the writing hand should always be below the writing line, with the left arm kept close to the body.
  9. Place a green dot for ‘go’ at the left margin to remind students to write from left to right. This can also assist with correcting letter and word reversals.
  10. Ensure all left-handed students have access to left-handed scissors because cutting with scissors builds strength in the writing hand.
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