Skills for a Left-Handed child

by Hannah
(Minneapolis, MN)

My 4 year-old son is left-handed and both his father and I are right handed. He's doing well in preschool in terms of learning fine motor skills, and we're also doing what we can at home to support his learning. Is there anything special we should keep in mind in terms of teaching a child to write, etc, left-handed?


Comments for Skills for a Left-Handed child

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Tips for a left-handed child
by: OT Mom

Hi Hannah!

It sounds as though your son is doing well as a left-hander, and well done for being so sensitive to his needs!

At this stage, the most important thing as far as fine motor development goes, is to make sure that he uses left handed scissors for scissor cutting tasks, and does not switch hands during gross motor or fine motor tasks. Also make sure that his teacher allows him to angle his paper to make his writing tasks easier.

It is not easy for left-handers to learn to form letters properly, as they tend to want to do them in the opposite direction to right-handers, and this often results in letter reversals. So make sure, even at this early age, that he forms the letters of his name as well as his numbers, correctly, and that he draws patterns etc from left to right to reinforce the habit of working from left to right. is a great website for parents and teachers of left-handers, and offers good advice as well as left-handed resources. They also have materials that help left-handed children make their letter formations correctly, so check them out! (I don't get paid for this link, so there's no catch!)

Hope that helps!

Thank you for visiting this site!
Kind regards,
OT Mom

Too early to rule out "Cross-handedness?"
by: Debi Snyder

I appreciated your comments about slanting paper properly for left-handed students, I still remember a teacher pointing this out to me as a child. However, I do question the advice about not allowing a child to switch hands for gross and fine motor activities. I realize it's rare but I'm "cross-handed," left-handed for fine motor activities and right-handed for everything gross motor - including using scissors. This came about naturally - my parents didn't care one way or another. Don't you think it's important, in early development, to allow the child to show a preference and not just assume that if they choose to write with their left hand that they should be forced to use their left hand for everything. This advice, to well meaning right-handed parents, might just be frustrating for everyone involved.

regarding "too early to rule out"
by: OT Mom

Hi Debi,
Thanks for taking the time to post a comment! I am responding to your statement about not allowing a child to switch hands for gross and fine motor activities.

I think it boils down to how well a child uses his preferred hand. If a child is left handed but is struggling with drawing and other fine motor tasks, then I would recommend helping him/her to "refine" their skills with their left hand by using the left hand as much as possible - such as scissor cutting with the left hand and trying to to do some gross motor tasks with the left hand (eg bounce a ball), just to help the hand specialize as much as possible.

Scissor cutting is a fine motor task and strengthens the hand and finger muscles, and thus I would def tell a left handed child to use the left hand for cutting (with left handed scissors!!!)- to give the hand and finger muscles lots and lots of practice. (lots of adult lefties did not have access to left handed scissors when they were growing up, and therefore learned to cut with right handed ones in their right hands!!)

If a child is "strong" with their preferred hand, then it is not really such an issue to switch for gross motor tasks if the other hand feels better for them.

In babyhood and toddlerhood, even early preschool years, it is natural for them to still be switching a bit. If their handedness is not clear at that age, I would give lots of bilateral and midline activities, lots of bilateral fine motor activities and see what hand "emerges". I definitely don't advocate forcing the use of a single hand!

I hope that helps!

The invisible line
by: Stephanie

Ok so my son is 5 and is a lefty but struggling very hard. In preschool they tried to enforce him writing with his right hand but since he was old enough to hold thing he has favored his left. Now in kindergarten he wants to write with his left hand until he hits the middle of the page and then switch to the right hand. His teacher has never seen this before. With both hands his writing is atrocious with letter floating where ever. We do a lot of fine motor building at home( playdoh, coloring, cutting...) I am lost as to what else I can do to help. His teacher belives he may have a sensory disorder that is blocking him from crossing the invisible middle line. Any thoughts???

Stephanie - crossing the midline
by: OT Mom

Hi Stephanie,
Switching hands half way across the paper can often be a midline crossing delay. Basically a child would tend to use the left hand on the left side of the body and the right hand on the right side of the body, and switching hands halfway across the page could be a symptom of this.

I have lots of information on this page. Crossing the Midline

I do recommend that you have your child assessed by a pediatric occupational therapist asap, preferably one who is experienced in the area of sensory processing/sensory integration disorders.

Hope this helps!

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