Tips on how to support your child

Is your child left-handed? Wonderful because left-handedness brings with it many unique traits and talents. Nevertheless, some situations can be more challenging. Although left-handedness has thankfully long since lost its stigma, left-handed people’s environments are often designed for right-handed people. We show you how to tell if your child is left-handed. And how you can support it properly in daycare, school and everyday life.

Around 11% of the world’s population is left-handed – researchers estimate that the number is much higher and varies greatly from country to country. For a long time, left-handed people were retrained to be right-handed, and even today, left-handedness is not supported in all cultures. It has long been scientifically clear: it is incredibly important to properly encourage and support left-handers from an early age. Because enforcement cannot and must be “trained”.

In Germany it is now legal that left-handedness must be taken into account. Being left-handed doesn’t just mean using your left hand, left-handers simply “work” differently than right-handers. The attempt to “re-educate” this attitude not only has little success, but often causes great psychological and physical damage.

What determines whether you become left-handed?

Right-handed or left-handed, it’s not a question of upbringing, but a disposition. In every human, one of the two hemispheres of the brain dominates. In right-handers it is the left hemisphere and in left-handers it is the right hemisphere. Why this is so has not yet been scientifically proven, despite more than 50 years of intensive research. Nevertheless, science has made some progress in recent years:

We know that the tendency to be left-handed is inherited, but not tied to one gene alone. Instead, many small markers on different genes must come together to make a baby more likely to be left-handed. By the way, we could theoretically find out with an ultrasound: Babies are already sucking on the thumb of their dominant hand in the womb.

How do I know if my child is left-handed?

Although babies already prefer one hand in the womb, they often use both hands equally after birth and in infancy. Not so easy for us parents to figure out her craft!

Proof that your baby or toddler is left-handed

  1. Position of the spoon: Little left-handers increasingly hold their bowl with their left hand and eat with their right. But many children also take turns trying things on. Important: Do not direct your child, but let them decide for themselves which hand they want to hold their cutlery in.
  2. everyday situations: It’s a good guide to which hand your child prefers to use more when cutting, painting or playing ball. But here too it may be that it likes to change more often.
  3. Spontaneous movements: The left hand is often best recognized by which hand it uses for spontaneous things like brushing hair away from the face.
  4. You are left-handed yourself: If one or even both parents are left-handed, there is a greater chance that your child will also be left-handed.

How can I tell if my child is left-handed?

Most children crystallize as they get older between 18 months and 3 years find out which hand they prefer. Some of them continue to change hands until they are in elementary school. Because: Children learn everything about their environment from the very beginning. If their carers use their right hand as the dominant hand, they often do so automatically, e.g. B. when holding cutlery.

Only with more complex movements such as drawing, writing, tying shoes, etc. can a dominant side be recognized. But even then it may be B. Personal preference affects the use of a particular hand and not enforcement. Some left-handers prefer z. For example, they use their right hand when eating or playing sports throughout their lives, and some right-handed people prefer their left.

Do left-handers really think differently than right-handers?

Due to the dominance of the right hemisphere of the brain, left-handers perceive the environment differently and process stimuli differently than right-handers, where the activity of the right hemisphere of the brain dominates. This is expressed in certain characteristics, talents and preferences, but not directly in intelligence. So far, studies have not been able to prove that left-handers are more intelligent or less intelligent than right-handers.

However, there are signs that left-handed people’s brains have a different structure and network than right-handed people. What we now know is that by using our non-dominant hand, we strengthen not only the non-dominant hemisphere, but also the dominant hemisphere and the connection between the two. Because left-handed people live in a right-handed world, this is much more common for them than the other way around. Many skills are therefore more pronounced in them than in right-handed people.

Characteristics that are particularly pronounced in left-handed people

  • empathy
  • creativity
  • spontaneity
  • fantasy
  • Physical and verbal language and expression
  • communication skills
  • complex thinking
  • Artistic skills
  • Spatial thinking

How can I support my left-handed school child?

Knowing that left-handed people perceive and think differently makes it easy to understand why they sometimes have problems with reading and writing when they start school. dr Johanna Barbara Sattler, head of the first German counseling and information center for left-handed and retrained left-handed eV gives tips on how you can support your child in learning to read and write.

#1 Understand differences

One theory is that if you are left-handed, natural direction of vision goes from right to left – exactly the opposite of our Western way of writing. Disputes can sometimes arise with letters. However, this usually resolves itself quickly as soon as reading and writing generally become more secure.

#2 Practice writing together

It is also often observed that left-handed schoolchildren write letters from right to left, according to the psychologist. It is important that these mistakes are lovingly corrected from the start – ideally when writing the first letters in kindergarten: “Otherwise the children learn to write letters incorrectly. When they come to school and are proud of being able to write a little, of course the frustration great when they suddenly have to do exactly that differently.”

She advises not to hesitate and show your offspring right from the start – of course only if they are at all interested in writing.

#3 Pay attention to your posture when writing

When you write yourself, it is important not to write from above so that the hand bends.

dr Johanna Barbara Sattler

Writing is more ergonomic when the writing hand is below the line. This also helps to avoid smearing the newly written text (a typical left-handed challenge!)

On the other hand, the blade can be tilted more and in the opposite direction – i.e. to the right – than is the case with right-handed people.

#4 Try the fountain pen early

Left-handed expert Dr. Johanna Barbara Sattler also gives the tip to let children write with a fountain pen as early as possible. They quickly notice themselves when they are not in the right writing position – namely when they smear the writing when they press their hand.

Your left-handed freshman may need extra help learning to write correctly. In many cities there are left-handed counseling centers that offer writing training for children and where you can get many more tips for school and everyday life. You can find a list of current offers sorted by federal state here:

#5 Get left-handed school supplies

When buying school materials, you can make sure that it is also suitable for left-handed people. More and more manufacturers also offer their products in left-handed versions.

  • Fountain pen: With fountain pens, the recessed grip plays a role. It is shaped differently for left-handers than for right-handers.
Beginning school fountain pen left-handed

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  • Pencils: For pens, the expert recommends attachable, triangular writing aids. They support the correct 3-point writing position so that the writing hand does not tire so quickly.
Spring-loaded triangular marker
Spring-loaded triangular marker

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Triangle writing aids for pens
Triangle writing aids for pens

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  • Writing pad for left-handed people: It helps to learn the correct writing position. The base determines the slope of the sheet and the position of the hand.
Desk pad left-handed
Desk pad left-handed

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  • college blocks: Writing paper comes in lined and squared college pads, usually ring bound on the left. However, it is easier for left-handed people to write on right- or top-bound blocks.
Notebook left-handed A4 lined
Notebook left-handed A4 lined

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Notebook left-handed A4 square
Notebook left-handed A4 square

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  • Sharpeners and scissors: Here, too, there are special left-handed products where the knives are attached accordingly.
School set for left-handed people
School set for left-handed people

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Pelikan left-handed school scissors
Pelikan left-handed school scissors

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Who can check if my child is left- or right-handed?

To provide the best possible support for young school entrants, their enforcement should be established before they start school. But it’s not always that easy.

If you are not sure before the start of school whether your child is right- or left-handed, a hand test at the left-handed counseling service can provide clarity. Often, enforcement is also an issue in school entrance exams.

As long as the handpiece is still unclear, try not to push your child in any direction or make judgmental comments about the handpiece (eg, “Put the spoon in the right hand”). With the necessary support it will find its way!

Why you shouldn’t give up being left-handed

But enforcement is certainly innate and cannot simply be re-educated. Experts expressly warn against re-educating left-handed people to be right-handed. Retrained left-handers often have lifelong problems such as concentration and speech disorders, learning difficulties, poor memory or fine motor skills. And it is not so strange, because after all they are trying to work against their natural “function”, against their brain.

Left-handed children
Left-handed children

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Left-handed or not, our kids are great learners: 7 incredible facts about childhood learning that help us support them.

Is your child ready for school?

Image source: Getty Images/romrodinka

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