Only approximately 10 percent of the population is left-handed, with a common gene present in many left-handed people, according to the American Psychological Association. If you're a right-handed parent of a left-handed child, teaching the basics of writing is often challenging. Your child's left hand may get in the way of what she writes, making it difficult for her to follow. Her work gets smudged and she may write slowly or have difficulty forming the letters. Teaching your child how to write with proper form using her left hand can prevent frustration and poor writing habits at a young age.
Use writing supplies made for left-handed writers to make the activity more comfortable for your child. Left-handed pens, pencils and notebooks are available. The items are slightly modified to make writing easier. For example, a left-handed notebook has the spiral binding on the opposite side so your child's hand doesn't rest on it when she writes. Another option is to use individual sheets of paper instead of a notebook so the binding isn't an issue at all.
Model the proper way to grip a pencil so it rests between the thumb and forefinger of your child's left hand, with the middle finger used as support. Practice holding the pencil in your left hand before you model the grip for her. This way she can see the pencil in your left hand instead of trying to mirror what she sees if you hold the pencil in your right hand.
Position the paper at the opposite angle you would normally use. The paper should rest closer to your child's left hand with top right corner angled closer to your child's body than the left top corner. This helps your child write with his wrist relaxed instead of hooked around to see what he is writing.
Mark the left side of the paper so your child knows where to start. Mirror writing -- starting at the right and moving toward the left with the letters also backward -- sometimes happens in left-handed writers, according to M.K. Holder, of the Handedness Research Institute. The visible mark on the left reminds your child to start on that side of the paper and move toward the right.
Trace the writing line with a bright marker so your child has a guide. Show her how to keep her hand below the writing line instead of curving the wrist and holding the hand above the line.
Encourage your child's natural letter formations, even if they aren't exactly how a right-handed person makes them. For example, many left-handed people draw horizontal lines in letters from the right to the left, instead of from left to right. This means he may write letters such as E, F, H, I and T slightly differently, but they should still look the same after he writes them. Avoid the temptation to force him into making the horizontal letter lines from left to right.
Things You Will Need
- Left-handed writing utensils
- Loose paper
If your child is in school, talk with her teacher regularly about her writing. Advocate for your child if her teacher isn't accommodating or supportive of her slight differences as a left-handed writer.